Is that the sound of four horsemen running across the playa…?

First thing this morning my wife calls the home office: “honey,” she says, “you’re not going to believe the gas price at the place on the corner. It’s more than twice the cost than the one across the street!”

insane gas prices, the Castro

Now that doesn’t sound right, does it? What ever happened to letting the market determine an item’s cost? So I picked up my camera and strolled around the corner. Sure enough, across the street the regular grade of gas was $2.799; this side, $3.439. Across the street premium was $2.969; this side, $6.159! What?!?

Who knows? I mean, this is the same place that cut down their neighbor’s trees because they didn’t like the leaves falling. I’m guessing the owner of the Arco on the corner of Market and Castro doesn’t mind the customers staying far away. (In the comments to one of Courtney’s columns several months ago a reader noticed similar shenanigans at this very station.)

But why am I even ranting about gasoline prices, the bane of every San Franciscan with a car? Because I’ve just come back from a long road trip. There’s nothing like seeing the high prices of gas (for us in the USA, I mean) and thinking how it all winds up pointing to a scorched earth.

Black Rock Desert playa

I can hardly wait for something greener to power my wheels. But I didn’t plan on talking environmentalism either. This is a blog about San Francisco, and the plain truth of the matter is than in 53 days a good portion of this city will not be here, but far away, on the alkali remains of an ancient lake bed.

Black Rock Desert

This is what the Black Rock Desert looked like this past weekend. In a few weeks 35,000 people will inhabit a temporary autonomous zone of art, music, and other treats. It’s probably too late for a well-planned trip to Burning Man, but it’s a good time to perk up your ears, listen to the last-minute plans of those going, hear the stories after the Man burns on Labor Day weekend, and make your own plans for 2006.

1 Comment so far

  1. cd (unregistered) on July 12th, 2005 @ 12:01 am

    To policy-nerd out for a moment: gas prices are only sort-of market-determined. specific pricing at local stations is done on a “zone pricing” system figured out by refineries/station owners. Kicker is they won’t really release their reasoning or maps, etc.

    Zone pricing is what gives you gas on one side of the street at $.34 cents more, etc. Zones can be of any size at all and forget trying to apply logic: for instance, in my hometown of San Pedro – where they make the f@$@$% gas to begin with, gas always costs more than it did over 50 miles away in my college town of Claremont.

    As for this particular uberdifference, Jason S. gives some more info on the reason for the hike here:

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