Musical Gas Stations in Ocean Beach?

by on June 2, 2012 · 9 comments

in Energy, Environment, Ocean Beach, San Diego

The OB Rag had heard that the Ocean Beach ARCO, at the prominent corner of Newport and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, was closing. As I drove by the site yesterday afternoon, I noticed workers placing items into a white van, and the yellow, caution tape draped across all the pumps. So I parked and went looking for answers.

Inside the station itself, 95% of everything had been removed. There were some former ARCO workers milling about, papers in hand and a woman videotaping what remained. After asking her if I could speak to her for a minute, Jennifer informed me that ARCO did not renew their lease with the property owners of the site. So, the property owners were leasing it out to Shell, which owns USA Gas, and it is USA Gas that will be the new station going in. It will be open in about a week I was told.

I asked a couple of the ARCO workers standing around if they had been given notice, and one guy said, sure, they had given him plenty of notice. Whether he and the others still had jobs was another matter altogether.

Meanwhile, I was informed, that ARCO is taking over the Shell site at the corner of Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. Jennifer – who works for Shell – could not confirm that.

Wow, I thought, musical chairs for gas stations.  Shell and USA Gas take over the old ARCO station site, and ARCO takes over the old Shell site.

One of our readers found a link to an article about how BP (British Petroleum) – which owns ARCO – is closing 100 gas stations in Southern California – see this: .



{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar dave rice June 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I need good gas for my RX-7. She runs nice on Shell, but hiccups, coughs, and wheezes whenever I feed her Arco. That said, the OB Shell is always consistently 15-20 cents more expensive than either of the two overpriced Shells around Midway, so I only gas that car up out of town anyway.

My Civic drinks what it’s told and does what a cheap econobox is supposed to – give me uninspired, high-mileage, reliable transportation. It got along fine on the Arco swill, and I’m sure it’ll do the same with USA Gas, minus the pesky 35 cent surcharge for not having cash (and hopefully allowing me to get to work even when I don’t have any money in the bank to use an ATM card).

When I talked to the gal at Arco a few weeks back, she seemed to think the majority of the staff would be re-hired by the USA Gas people when they come in. I really hope that’s the case, as I’ve never had a problem with anyone in there – although I noticed they didn’t have any CityBeats last week, which I normally pick up along with a copy of my work’s mag.

Overall reaction: meh, whatever. If the net effect is that the heinously overpriced Shell moves out and a second cheapo station moves in, I’m fine with that. But I wonder what happens with the auto repair business at the Shell – I’ve never seen an Arco operating with anything other than a c-store attached. Do they shut down the garage and expand the existing little c-store so it can be called AM/PM?


avatar john June 6, 2012 at 2:32 am

Dave is correct about ARCO gas, most high performance cars run lousy on it. When I first got my ’86 Corvette I made the mistake of putting a whole tankful of it in at once, it restarted at the pump but about a mile later chugged to a halt and ran like hell until I was able to get it about half empty and top it off with a better brand. This is not a myth or belief, ARCO did advertise right on their pump at the time putting some kind of filler or additive the others did not. They were also noticeably cheaper than other brands- is it worth the difference if the gas is worse and perhaps you get worse mpg? Does research confirm this?
When I’m not on my bicycle (which is most of the time) the Honda Passport I drive will run on anything.
However I still buy most of my gas when in OB at the Shell at Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs, while you are right they are on the higher end of the pricing scale I don’t find them unreasonable compared to other premium brand stations around town. The owner, (is his name Dennis?) is a face I’ve recognized for decades and he always is cheerful and the station is very well equipped and clean. How many gas stations around town still have restrooms? Not many. They always have window cleaner facilities and paper towels to check your oil. They are open 7/24. They don’t mind if you park and walk over to grab a burrito at Roberto’s. I’ve always preferred them to the one at W. Pt. Loma because they have a more spacious lot and more pumps, I’d rather not feel like I’m fighting others to get a pump during peak hours.
Of course there is also as you mention one or more real mechanics on duty though I do my own.
So I don’t mind that the price is not the lowest in town for the level of facilities provided, I think they call that “value added” or something like that.
I would say I hope the owner of the former Shell isn’t getting screwed in any way and that forces his own franchise change. Hard to say if I would keep going there if they start carrying ARCO gas, which I do consider to be a substandard product though it works for many.


avatar Jon June 4, 2012 at 2:22 am

I’m with dave in the sense that I dont care what corporate entity wants to be the new fossil fuel peddling juggernaut in town. I only hope that local people have a job. the guy that’s worked at that pump station for a while is a really friendly dude. I hope they continue to employ him.


avatar Frank Gormlie June 4, 2012 at 8:49 am

Yeah, he has an excellent point, so perhaps it is a ‘win’ for OB.


avatar Jon June 4, 2012 at 2:25 am

oh, and aloha ob rag! sorry i’ve been so MIA. Love you guys.


avatar Anna Daniels June 4, 2012 at 7:27 am

Jon, great hearing from you! I’ve missed you!


avatar Mike James June 4, 2012 at 12:50 pm

My regular Arco in La Mesa just closed, now I know why.


avatar Frank Gormlie June 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Nice tux – going somewhere?


avatar john June 6, 2012 at 3:31 am

Okay so I was worried I was talking out my backside, as it turns out I wasn’t. I Googled “ARCO bad gas” and was stunned by all the banter, surely they can’t all be wrong? Well yes and no.

First what’s behind the ARCO pullout:

I guess that spill cost them plenty. Remember the Rag’s article protesting ARCO after the spill? Well wishes DO come true!

Good Gas/Bad Gas:

Conspicuously missing, BP/ARCO.

While it’s now true that most gasoline we buy, regardless of brand, may come from the same refinery and distributor, and by federal regs will be so called “E10 ” or 10% Ethanol for oxygenation, by brand they have their own additives and BP/ ARCO has been a holdout refusing to met “top tier gas” standards of detergent quality as dictated by auto manufacturers. IN THE PAST like in the 80’s with my experience the fact was ARCO was putting Ethanol and other fillers in before others did. So it was bad gas that made some cars run bad as soon as it went in. Now they all have oxygenated additives, the difference is the “top tier” brands have the best detergent additives that prevent fuel system and intake valve deposits that in the long term harm engines and make your car run badly.

Funny if you read ARCO’s corporate BS as to their lower prices:

So in summary good riddens to bad gas, bad corporations, and hopefully the locals get jobs with the new brand. I’m guessing we will have a “USA gas” on Newport, and the Voltaire station will remain “Shell” as ARCO doesn’t seem to be in a position to acquire new properties. Both selling the same or similar gas BTW. Now the prices?


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