Hundreds of San Diegans have their tanks filled during the free gas giveaway

Amid record gasoline prices, local community groups came together Monday to fill the gas tanks of more than 320 San Diegan residents and send a message to lawmakers.

Organizers took over an Arco station in Allied Gardens for more than three hours to donate about 3,000 gallons of gasoline worth $15,000, or a day’s worth of gasoline delivery for station, organizers said.

Lines wrapped tightly around the block from 7 a.m. until past 10 a.m. as people waited to fill their tanks. Each car received up to $55 worth of free gas.

“This is the first free gas giveaway in this type of format,” said Shane Harris, president and founder of the People’s Justice Defenders Association, one of the event’s organizers. “It was not made for this bandwidth.”

The association has partnered with the San Diego County Black Chamber of Commerce, the Heartland Coalition, the San Diego Food Bank, attorney King Aminpour, Attisha Enterprises Inc., the Chaldean Coalition, and some anonymous donors to provide free emergency gas. distribution for low-income and working-class families.

Attendees also received a 30-pound box of food from the San Diego Food Bank, enough to sustain a family of four for a few weeks, said Casey Castillo, the food bank’s acting CEO.

Regular unleaded gasoline in San Diego County averaged $5.766 a gallon on Monday — a new high — up 38 cents from a week ago, according to AAA.

The dramatic spike in gas prices has left San Diegans on fixed incomes struggling to fill their gas tanks, compounding the financial impacts of the pandemic, Castillo said.

Currently, the food bank feeds an average of 550,000 people a month through food distributions and partnerships with food pantries and nonprofits, he said.

Harris says he hopes the event sends a message to the Legislature and elected leaders that people are hurting.

“We’re putting on a drama here for working class and low income families who are really hurt by these gas prices,” Harris added. “It’s a crisis. We have to meet this moment… We need action now.

Volunteer Samuel Green said people were grateful to the organizers and volunteers. He and other volunteers worked on pumps and directed traffic as some drivers shouted “Thank you” and “God bless you!” »

“It’s super helpful,” said Nadiyah J. Albee, who lives in National City. “I can focus that money on bills instead. The gas is ridiculous right now, and who knows when it’s going to come down again?”

Volunteer Susana Arnold, right, with fellow volunteer Marcus Elliott Williams Sr., watching left, loads a 15-pound box of food from the San Diego Food Bank into the back of one of the waiting cars get up to $50 worth of gas as part of the $15,000 gas giveaway sponsored by the People’s Association of Justice Advocates and their partners at the Arco gas station on Waring Road and Zion Avenue in Allied Gardens on Monday the 14th March 2022. Each car was limited to a maximum of $50 in fuel, enough for 300 vehicles. (Howard Lipin/For The San Diego Union-Tribune) NOTE: Allocation information says it was $20,000 and 400 cars, but Shane clarified it was $15,000 and 300 cars.

(Howard Lipin/For the San Diego Union-Tribune)

Sandy Tilmann, who lives in Logan Heights, says surviving on Social Security is enough of a challenge without the rising costs.

“Any increase (in prices) takes away the necessities,” she said.

On Monday, a proposal by Republican lawmakers in the state Senate to fast-track legislation that would suspend California’s gasoline tax failed, winning 18 of the 54 votes needed. Gasoline tax is currently 51 cents per gallon and is expected to rise to 54 cents in July.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Tuesday to send a letter to the state asking for a one-year suspension of the tax.

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