Lake Tahoe hurt by high gas prices

May 23, 2008 7:23:19 PM PDT
If you're hitting the road this holiday weekend, be prepared for gas prices like you've never seen before.

It's already over $4 in the Bay Area, but it's even higher in destination spots like Tahoe and Santa Cruz -- making your return trip, all the more expensive.

This Memorial Day weekend many people will be remembering the days of $3 gas. And although everyone seems to agree, $4 gas is absolutely outrageous; at one destination it's still not bad enough to keep people away.

Regular unleaded is $4.29 or more in Tahoe.

Locals like Kellie Farnocchia and Keith Murphy are afraid of a double-whammy -- getting hit with unheard of prices and possibly losing the tourists who provide the money to pay for it.

Murphy gives horse and carriage rides to tourists at state line.

"That's our bread and butter, you know tourism. This whole town depends on tourists and if the price of gas goes up, are we going to get any business up here and how will it affect us. We are all going to be starving to death," said Murphy.

So far, it appears their bread and butter will keep coming.

Kelly Harahan drove up from Los Angeles. She says the price of gas was not a deterrent.

"It would be, but it's a family tradition. So we couldn't miss it even with the cost of gas this year," said Harahan.

The South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association says even running on empty, tourists are still making it to Tahoe.

"This weekend is surprisingly not bad. The gas prices didn't have the negative effect that you might think that they would have," said Jerry Bindell from the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association.

Bindell says he expects visitors to cut back on dining out or other expenses while here.

"So far we're seeing fairly good booking patterns for the summer," said Bindell.

A San Leandro Costco had bargain-basement regular for $3.97. That would be where you'd want to go if you rent an RV. It takes 75-gallons to fill, and gets about seven-and-half miles per gallon. It rents for $239 a night with a five night minimum.

Still, El Monte RV says its business is doing fine in part because of rising airfares, and thanks to European tourists who love RV's and a weak dollar.

It could be worse. We could be in Norway, where tens of thousands of people are beginning to sign an Internet petition protesting gas at $11 a gallon.


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