H-CENTRAL COAST

Mar 10, 2011 4:36 PM by Danielle Lerner

Why is gas so expensive on the Central Coast?

Gas prices continue to climb and people on the Central Coast are taking some of the biggest hits to their budgets.

The latest numbers from AAA show the national average for unleaded gas is $3.52 a gallon. California's average is 40 cents higher, at $3.92. Compare that with $3.97 in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.

So why do people on the Central Coast pay some of the highest prices in the state and country? Experts say there are a variety of reasons.

Patrick DeHaan is a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com. He says the prices are higher here because the cost of doing business is higher, so gas station owners pass the cost onto their customers. It is also a more affluent area so gas stations know people will pay for higher-priced gas. He also says a lack of competition could be driving prices up, along with our proximity to Highway 101, since travelers are less likely to shop around for the best deals.

Not to mention the fact that California has some of the highest gas taxes in the nation, and the California Air Resources Board mandates stations use a special, more expensive type of gas that is cleaner burning.

We'll have more on this story throughout the day on ksby.com, and tonight on KSBY News at 5 and 6.

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