For the first time in over a year, California again has the highest price for regular gas in the U.S.
In San Luis Obispo County, the average price for regular is now more than $4 per gallon at $4.19. That's up more than a dollar from last year. In Santa Barbara County, it's $4.03.
"It's not looking good. Prices are still going up. You can wake up tomorrow and the prices will be another 10 cents up," said Arroyo Grande resident Jesse Moreno.
The large price increase from over a year ago is a result of the decrease in fuel demand at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, when driving dropped substantially because of stay-at-home orders.
In San Luis Obispo County, gas prices have always been among the most expensive. According to a 2019 Economic Vitality Corporation study, that's because of the distance to major wholesale gas supply hubs and high California sales and excise taxes.
Michael Tracy, a Santa Maria resident, said, "I found diesel for $2.80 in Santa Maria, and now it's back up to $4.50 again so quite the jump."
A gas shortage is also predicted for this summer. According to the California Energy Commission, production of California gas is down about 1% from the week before and inventory is down nearly 4%. Plus, more drivers are hitting the road for much-needed post-pandemic vacations.
"I mean, $2 more a gallon than what I would pay in Arizona being in California. It's quite a lot," said Aromas resident Pamela Kuijano-Hivner.
The costly fuel on the Central Coast is making some people reconsider what kind of car they drive, too.
"I gotta get gas a lot more often, which sucks, and I'm trying to get a different car because my car just takes way too much gas and it's too expensive," Tracy said.
According to GasBuddy, the cheapest gas in San Luis Obispo County is $3.63 per gallon at Sinclair in Morro Bay. The most expensive is $4.59 per gallon at Chevron in Pismo Beach.