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San Diego’s Rising Gas Prices Are Making Consumers Take Notice

Evening Edition

Above: San Diego gas prices are poised to break through the four dollar a gallon barrier soon. The Automobile Club of Southern California says the average price of a gallon of regular gas was a couple of a tenths of a cent shy of four dollars this morning. People are beginning to take notice.

San Diego gas prices are poised to break through the $4 a gallon barrier soon. On Friday, the Automobile Club of Southern California said the average price of a gallon of regular gas was just a couple of tenths of a cent shy of the $4 mark, and people are beginning to take notice.

Prices have been rising steadily for several weeks as the state's refineries switch over to a summer fuel blend. It requires more raw oil to make the summer blend, but it takes longer to evaporate, keeping harmful pollutants out of the air.

Consumer advocate Charles Langley said the gasoline changeover is just one thing keeping supplies low.

“The refineries have been exporting very large quantities of California gasoline overseas, and what they appear to be doing is managing the inventory,” Langley said.

University of San Diego economist Alan Gin said the increase in gas prices will reach far beyond the pump. He said a large chunk of the region's economic activity is based on consumer spending.

"For every 10 cents that the price of a gallon of gas goes up, that takes about $10 million a month out of the local economy. People are spending that on gas when they could've been spending it on food, eating out at restaurants, clothes, things like that,” Gin said.

Gin also said $4-a-gallon gas will likely make people pay attention, but he doesn't think high prices will put the brakes on the region's economic recovery.

"We had pretty good job growth last year and I think we have some momentum in the economy. But it would slow, it would slow the growth. It would take some spending out and that's a negative for the economy,” Gin said.

Automobile Club officials said the current price is the highest it has been in six months. However, today's average price is about 18 cents a gallon lower than the average price a year ago.

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