Californians Cutting Back While Waiting For Gas Prices To Fall : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Californians Cutting Back While Waiting For Gas Prices To Fall (KFWB/AP) --

Drivers in California have shown little outrage as a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline averages a record $2. In previous years, consumer groups were deluged with complaints when prices rose sharply. So far that hasn't been the case. "The public is not outraged about this at the present time," said Harry Snyder, a senior advocate for the West Coast office of Consumers Union in San Francisco. "Basically, you can't lead a boycott. People need to drive their cars to work."

Only about 15 people joined a protest Wednesday outside a gas station in South-Central Los Angeles where a grass-roots group called on President Bush and Gov. Gray Davis to temporarily suspend state and federal gasoline taxes.

"That is breaking my pocket everyday. I can't even afford to give my kids money like I used to," said Arlena Atkins, a mother of six who works as a security guard. "I don't have no other choice but to go and pay for the gas."

"Why tax senior citizens? Why tax the poor?" asked Lowe Barry, co-chairman of Citizens Against Higher Prices, estimating the taxes add 40 to 65 cents to the price of a gallon of gas.

But if they aren't marching in the streets, drivers are protesting in other ways, namely complaining to gas station owners and, in some cases, staying away from the pumps.

Daily sales are down about 25 percent at Malibu Texaco on the Pacific Coast Highway, which charges $2.09 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

Customers "complain constantly," owner Hans Shahidi said in a telephone interview.

In Blythe, a desert town on the way to the Colorado River, the price at one Chevron station was $2.15 per gallon this week, among the highest in the state.

Sales there have fallen 15 to 25 percent in the past month, said a manager who declined to give his last name.

"Right now, I have no cars on my islands. You could fire a cannon across here," he said by telephone.

His customers are grumpier, too.

"We are ground zero. We get all the complaints: 'It's highway robbery. You guys should be ashamed of yourself.' Like I'm sitting here making a ton of money."

Because "the trip to visit grandma" is costlier, motorists are curbing unnecessary jaunts, he said. And some locals are crossing the Colorado River to buy their gas in Arizona, where taxes are much lower.

Wayne Sanford, pumping $37.96 into his battered Jeep Cherokee at a Los Angeles station, said more Californians aren't angry over the high prices because the economy has been good and "people can actually afford it."

But he added, "I think I'll be on the bus once it gets to two-fifty."

Sanford admits the extra $10 it takes for a fill-up has hurt his "fast-food lifestyle."

"I just stopped eating out," he said.

Harvey Rosenfield, president of the Los Angeles-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, believes consumers are "in a state of sticker shock over skyrocketing energy prices, whether it's natural gas, electricity or motor vehicle fuel."

"I think it's going to take a couple weeks for this to sink in," he said, "And then I think we'll have a ratepayer revolt in the streets this summer."

-- PHO (, May 17, 2001


There seems to be mounting evidence that this energy thing is now starting to change California's life styles.

-- RogerT (, May 17, 2001.

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