Gas prices setting records in many Bay Area cities

Drivers across the Bay Area can expect to shell out as record-setting gasoline prices approached $4 per gallon in San Francisco.

With the summer driving season nearing, the state average price for a gallon of gas was a record-high $3.44 Thursday, according to the American Automobile Association of Northern California. Regionally, major metropolitan areas from San Jose to Santa Rosa also broke price records, AAA spokesman Sean Comey said.

A number of factors, including a dip in California’s refinery production levels and a steady rise in the price of crude oil, combined to create the high fuel prices, Comey said.

During February, March and part of April, as many as nine of California’s 14 refineries were out of service at one time, California Energy Commission spokeswoman Susanne Garfield said Thursday. Meanwhile, crude oil prices have jumped about $19 since the beginning of the year, Garfield said.

In San Francisco, a gallon of regular unleaded gas averaged $3.59, Comey said. Prices of $3.70 to $3.90 were advertised at some stations, with premium running close to $4. In Oakland, the same gallon went for $3.47, on average. In San Jose, it was $3.46, in Santa Rosa, $3.40 and in Vallejo the average was $3.41, Comey said. All of those are new records.

But the steady increase in gas prices hasn’t sent drivers off the roads in droves. As gasoline prices increased since the beginning of the decade, so has California’s consumption. Only in 2006, for the first time since 2000, did the state show any sign of slowing down. That year, California drivers used 15.8 billion gallons of gas, down from 15.9 billion in 2005, Garfield said.

Derrick How, who lives in San Francisco and drives his Toyota Tacoma pickup to Foster City, a roughly 50-mile round trip, said he will continue to commute by car.

“I think my price point will be five bucks, at which point I’ll try to work from our San Francisco location or start working from home,” How said.

amartin@examiner.com


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