California’s gas-car phaseout brings turmoil to mom-and-pop gas stations
SAN FRANCISCO – In a few weeks, drivers will no longer be able to access the gas pumps by taking one of those free, self-serve gas cards handed out at every gas station as part of the state’s gas-car phaseout. Instead they will have to pay for the gas, and then receive it from the pumps.
This is going to be a big change for many stations, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian asked a couple of them about what it will be like to be without a business model that’s fueled by the gas that their customers rely on.
For one station, the transition will be dramatic. In the past, the owner of a mom-and-pop retail gas station in Sunnyvale would pay for the gas to be delivered to his store; then, the same gas would fill the entire station, including the propane tanks that he’s been storing there for more than 40 years. Those tanks were essential because the previous owner didn’t have his own propane tanks.
But with the gas being delivered by self-serve pumps, the owner will now be responsible for making sure the tanks have adequate gas.
“It’s not just an inconvenience right now, because I’ve got to make sure I have enough propane in the tanks. I have to maintain the tanks. It’s like having two businesses or two gas stations,” said Dan Burdick, the owner of Burdick’s Station, on the city side of the Bay Bridge.
Burdick says he has no choice. He can’t afford to pay to buy his gas, he says, and he can’t afford to buy his propane tanks, which cost more than $300,000 each. He will likely have to lay off all of his employees and find someone else to run his station.
“It’s going to be tough. It’s really a very difficult transition for me,” Burdick said. “I’ve been in the gas station business since 1976. I can’t just lay the whole show off.”
Burdick’s was one of the first gas stations to