Gas Prices Spike: Beach Outing Dive

Posted on Monday, July 28, 2008, under: Radio, Human Interest

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Going to the beach used to be a cheap family outing: pack a lunch and there’s no cost to get in. But with gas averaging $4.50 a gallon, KPCC’s Patricia Nazario took a trip out to Malibu’s Zuma beach to tally up the classic Southland escape this summer.

Patricia Nazario: To find out how much a day at the beach cost these days, I’m going to zero out my odometer to calculate my mileage before I leave the San Fernando Valley. There. We’ll see what it says when I get to Zuma Beach.

Pulling into the parking lot, I drove 45-and-a-half miles. Round trip, that’s 90 miles. With my car, that means about five gallons of gas, which in this day and age, is going to cost me about $23. Now, parking.

Parking Attendant: Hola.

Nazario: How are you?

Attendant: Good.

Nazario: How much is it?

Attendant: Seven.

Nazario: Seven dollars?

Attendant: Siete por favor.

Nazario: Siete dolares? Muy bien.

Attendant: Ahi in Venice, estan cobrando quince.

Nazario: Para estacionar?

Attendant: Para estacionar.

Nazario: He said parking at Venice Beach is up to $15.

Nazario: … three, four five. Six.

Attendant: Uh huh.

Nazario: Let me look for one more. OK. So, that’s it? There’s my ticket? OK. Thanks. Take care.

Nazario: OK, I just paid 7 here, plus the 23 in gas. My tab so far is up to $30, and I haven’t even gotten out of my car yet. A few spots down from my car, a gold-colored Toyota Camry is pulling in.

Nazario: Hi. Excuse me. I’m a reporter with KPCC.

Margarite Trimison: Yes.

Nazario: I’m just trying to talk to people about how much it costs to come to the beach these days.

Trimison: It cost quite a bit.

Nazario: Before you parked in here, did you look for parking on the street?

Trimison: Yes, I did, and there wasn’t anything.

Nazario: Tell me your name.

Trimison: Margarite Trimison. I wouldn’t feel so badly if I’d had others with me to share. Because it’s $7, whether you have company or not.

Nazario: Where did you drive to Zuma from?

Trimison: I drove from Studio City.

Nazario: Coming from Studio City was, maybe, a 70 mile round trip?

Trimison: Maybe 70. Yeah.

Nazario: Are you finding that you’re doing less of these sorts of outings this summer?

Trimison: Yes, I am. Yes I am. It’s a stay-closer-to-home type thing.

Boy: … Uhhhmmm… chocolate!

Vendor: Chocolate? Is that the one?

Boy: Yeah!

Nazario: Can I just talk to you real fast? Where did you guys come down from?

Alina Savulesco: Simi Valley.

Nazario: How many miles was that for you?

Alina Savulesco: Thirty, or so, I think.

Nazario: So, 60 miles round trip. How much of a concern was gas, and the parking, and then coming and buying ice cream for you little boy?

Alina Savulesco: Well, yeah. Gas is really expensive. So, we haven’t been coming here too often. The ice cream? It was spur of the moment. (laughing) Just go for it!

Nazario: And what about parking? Did you guys get lucky with free parking?

Alina Savulesco: We are– Yeah. It’s free, but it’s way out on the streets. So, we got another… half a mile to go.

Nazario: Did you look for free parking? And were you considering the paid parking? You know, that $7?

Alina Savulesco: Yeah… well, no. I didn’t want to pay for parking, (laughing) because we already paid for the gas.

Nazario: I ran into Alina Savulesco with her husband and little boy at the hot dog cart in Zuma Beach. Frank Deck is the owner.

Nazario: Can you show me around your hot dog cart?

Frank Deck: We sell Kosher hot dogs only. I sell ice cream, and then just chips, candy, various drinks.

Nazario: He’s been parking in the same spot during the summer months for the past three years.

Nazario: How’s your business going so far this summer?

Deck: It’s down.

Nazario: So, to put that in numbers, what would you say compared to last summer?

Deck: It’s like half. The cars are half. The traffic’s half.

Nazario: And so why do you think that is?

Deck: Mainly because of the gas, ’cause I used to have a lot of regular customers that would come every Saturday, every Sunday. But this year? It’s the gas. They can’t afford it.

Nazario: Are you seeing those regular customers, but maybe less frequently?

Deck: Once a month. Once a month. They save up for the trip to the beach.

Nazario: What I notice is you have to tow your cart behind your van. So, that’s an 8-cylinder van, plus the force of having to tow the cart. How much does it cost you just to come out here and do your job?

Deck: Forty-two dollars in gas a day.

Nazario: And so you need to make how much a day to make a living?

Deck: About 200, 250. This summer? Most days, you don’t make it.


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