$6 for a gallon of gas? Try nearly $10 in this coastal California town

·3 min read
Prices at Schlafer's Auto Body & Repair in Mendocino sells gas for $9.60 per gallon.
Schlafer's Auto Body & Repair in Mendocino sells gas for $9.60 a gallon. (Google Maps)

Drivers heading up the Pacific Coast should be on the lookout for whiplash as they pass the town of Mendocino, where a gallon of regular now costs $9.60.

Gas prices have surged in the last several months and California boasts the highest prices in the nation. Inflation is one reason for the jump at the pump, but so is the war in Ukraine and the removal of Russian oil from the international market, along with taxes found only in California due to the state's strict environmental regulations.

Prices continue to increase across the state, much to the anger and distress of drivers.

This time last year, the average cost of gas in California was $4.21. On Monday, the average cost for a gallon of regular is $6.34, according to AAA's gas price tracker. In Mono County, a gallon of regular is $7.04, which is the highest listed price across the state on the AAA tracker.

But Schlafer’s Auto Body & Repair in Mendocino has a gallon of regular at $9.60, about $3 higher than the county's average of $6.38.

This is not the first time the four-pump station has garnered attention-grabbing headlines for having the most expensive gas in the country. Last year, the station charged a quaint $6.73 a gallon, according to SF Gate.

Owner Judy Schlafer recently told SF Gate that she needs to raise her prices to cover high overhead costs.

"I’m going to be lucky if I make the year with all the fees, the regulation, the payroll fees," Schlafer told SF Gate. "If it continues the way it is, Mendocino won’t have a gas station next year."

Schlafer told KGO-TV in the Bay Area that she operates as an independent business and does not have a convenience store at the station, which would allow her business to recoup costs by selling food and other goods.

A person at the business who answered the phone Monday declined to speak with The Times about gas prices.

Farther north, Humboldt County's average gas price is $6.80 and Monterey County's is $6.46. But the Big Sur Chevron in Monterey County lists a gallon of regular at $7.10.

Some remote locations are left with little choice but to charge higher prices, said Troy Vincent, a senior market analyst with energy analysis firm DTN.

"Specific areas seeing far higher prices than the state average like in Mendocino and Big Sur are largely outliers because of transportation costs and low volumes," Vincent said in an email. "When a retailer sells small quantities and requires a delivery truck fueled by extremely expensive diesel fuel to make a lengthy drive to deliver the gasoline, these specific retail stations are under unique pressure to raise prices far in excess of the state average in order to maintain their margins."

While some locations continue to charge more than the national average, the cost of gas shows no signs of dropping anytime soon, AAA spokesperson Anlleyn Venegas said Monday.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, a large influx of travelers hit the road for the first time since the pandemic started. That strong showing is a good indicator that fuel demand is going to remain high.

"Travel is going to continue to add to the demand for gasoline," said Venegas, who recommends shoppers use apps on their phones to shop around for lower prices in their areas.

In the last week, the national cost of gas has jumped 25 cents, according to AAA. The national average of gas in the U.S. is 59 cents more than a month ago at $4.86 and $1.81 more than a year ago, according to AAA.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.