San Diego groups give away gas, food as prices continue to rise
Hundreds of people lined the street Monday at an Allied Gardens gas station waiting to get free gas as price recorded their smallest increase so far.
The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline Monday in San Diego County was $5.766 — a three-tenths of a cent increase. The price has risen $1.022 during a 20-day streak of increases, including by at least 10 cents six times between March 4 and Thursday, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.
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Zach Brewster was the first person in line at the Arco station on 5194 Waring Road at a little past 7 a.m. He woke up at 5 a.m. to attend the "Gas Me Up" gasoline giveaway, hosted by the People's Association of Justice Advocates in partnership with the San Diego Food Bank and several other organizations.
Brewster, who works as a property manager, drives a V8 Toyota Tundra truck. It's his only vehicle and he drives around the city to check up on his four properties. Last week, it cost him $150 to fill the truck.
"You can't complain about free gas," he said. "It reminds me of when I was a kid — Jimmy Carter... . So I know how serious this is."
Brewster was referring to the 1979 oil crisis following the Iranian Revolution that saw rationing of gasoline in the United States. This time, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia is creating instability in the oil market.
Crude oil prices began to drop Wednesday after the United Arab Emirates announced it would increase oil production and "encourage other OPEC members to do the same," said Doug Shupe, the Automobile Club of Southern California's corporate communications and programs manager. As a result, gas prices are seeing smaller increases.
After rising to $127.98 on Tuesday, its highest amount since July 2008, the price of a barrel of Brent crude on the Intercontinental Exchange dropped $16.84 to $111.14 on Wednesday, its biggest decline in a day since April 2020, and to $109.33 on Thursday. It rose to $112.67 on Friday.
Crude oil costs account for slightly more than half of the pump price, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The rest of the price includes the other components of gasoline, production costs, distribution costs, overhead costs for all involved in the production, distribution and sales, taxes and carbon offset fees in California paid by the refineries.
“The gas prices in California are too damn high," People's Association of Justice Advocates president Shane Harris said. "People are hitting an all-time low at the pump. They're struggling from housing affordability to gas prices."
For Tina King, who works as a tutor at Encanto Elementary School, the high price of gas has limited her activities.
"You don't get to do as much as you did before because you're like, 'Oh, I all want to save gas to get here or there,'" she said.
Participants in Monday's gas giveaway had to sign up beforehand. In addition to the free gas, they also received $55 worth of food courtesy of the Food Bank. The box contains canned foods and dried goods that should sustain a family of four a few weeks .
“We know that folks that are going to be coming here to receive gas are probably also struggling with food insecurity,” San Diego Food Bank vice president of operations Vanessa Ruiz said. "[The dried goods] are going to help these families hopefully avoid skipping a meal. This gas is going to also help them avoid maybe missing another day of work, calling out — potentially being fired from their jobs."
Organizers were able to help around 300 people and roughly 2,700 gallons of gas were given away — the amount of a day's worth of gasoline for that Arco station.