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Gas prices hit national high

Costs at the pump locally continue to exceed averages.

March 24, 2008|By Jason WellsThe Leader

GLENDALE — Average unleaded fuel prices on Monday for the Los Angeles area continued to hover within a penny of the $3.62-per-gallon record set last week, and market analysts announced a new all-time inflation-adjusted high of $3.26 a gallon for the national average.

The average cost for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Los Angeles was $3.61, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California, slightly less than the state average of $3.63. For premium gasoline, the regional average was $3.91 per gallon.

But prices in Glendale and Burbank have historically been higher than the regional average — many gas stations on Monday were advertising regular unleaded gasoline for $3.61 to $3.69 per gallon.

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?  The higher price points had some drivers frustrated.

“I don’t know what it is about this area, but I just have to eat it,” Glendale resident Elise Marchiem said as she fueled her Honda Civic at a Chevron on East Olive Street and South Glenoaks Boulevard in Burbank.? 

Marchiem commutes to Thousand Oaks four days a week to manage a retail store — a trek that has a significantly higher impact on her bank account than it did a month ago, when prices were about 35 cents cheaper.

“There’s not a whole lot I can do about it,” she said. “It’s not like I can just walk to work.”

The penny difference won’t be much of a barrier to market pressures brought on by crude oil speculators that are playing a larger role in pushing the cost — or market value — of wholesale gasoline up, said Marie Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the auto club.

“It’s good for the  401(k), but not good for the pocketbook,” she said.

That assessment was not lost on Chuck Kelly, who gave the macroeconomic forces affecting gas prices a modest shrug as he began fueling his Toyota 4Runner with regular unleaded for $3.75 a gallon at a Mobil station on Burchett and Pacific avenues in Glendale.

“We go through this every year — and it seems like it just ?  keeps getting higher and higher,” he said.

During the same period last year, Glendale drivers were coping with regular unleaded per-gallon prices around $3.17 — 10 cents higher than the regional average of $3.07 per gallon.

The year before that, the average price per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the Los Angeles area was $2.60.

?  For the same period in 2002, the statewide average price per gallon of was just $1.58, according to the California Energy Commission. It was $3.60 last week.? 

“We don’t know where it’s going to end up,” Montgomery said.

The auto club reminds drivers to keep up on car maintenance — especially tire pressure — as a way to increase efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.

•?JASON WELLS covers Glendale City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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