Prices had dipped during January. In the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, the average price for a gallon of regular is one penny below what it was a month ago, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. But prices are now on the rise. On Friday, the price of regular had increased seven cents, to $2.55 a gallon, compared to the week before, when it was at $2.48, according to Auto Club data. On gaspricewatch.com, a Web site that allows consumers to enter the gas prices they have seen and check for the lowest prices near them, a gallon of regular in the San Fernando Valley started at $2.33 just a little more than three days ago. By Monday afternoon, the lowest price listed was $2.58, found at an Arco on Van Nuys Boulevard in Panorama City. Fill up, quick. Gas prices are creeping up and are nowhere near their possible 2007 high, experts said Monday. “The next month or so you can expect prices to go up as you head into the spring driving season,” said oil analyst Mary Welge, an editor at Oil Price Information Service. “In California, you are probably going to be up in the $3 (per gallon) neighborhood.” Even $3.25 a gallon is possible, she added. The rising prices are no surprise to many. “This is the time of year that California has prices increase,” said Auto Club spokeswoman Elaine Beno. Prices generally drop in the fall and stay low during the winter, then pick back up again as the weather warms up. The culprit? Regular, scheduled maintenance at refineries lowered the gasoline output, and the price of crude has risen from about $50 per barrel to about $60 per barrel in the past four weeks. In addition, demand is healthy and expected to grow. At a Mobil station at Winnetka Avenue and Ventura Boulevard, Frank Jacobs filled up his Audi A4. He said he noticed fuel prices were rising but does not have a lot of choice – he drives for work. “It bothers me, but there’s not much I can do,” said Jacobs, 48, of Calabasas. “I don’t have a place to store gas.” A few pumps over, Vik Mardirosian was nostalgic for a car that doesn’t depend heavily on gas. He gave up his wheels and rode his bike everywhere for two and a half years after the Iraq war started. But after struggling to get around Los Angeles, Mardirosian, 26, of Mission Hills, started driving a Honda Passport. “I wouldn’t want to buy gas,” he said. “If it was up to me, we’d bring back the electric car.” [email protected] (818) 713-3735 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!