After 11 weeks of price declines, then two weeks of slight increases, gasoline prices registered small ups and downs last week, indicating that prices are at or near their bottom throughout the Southwest, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch.Currently, the average price of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $1.720 per gallon, which is 1.3 cents lower than Nov. 26. This price is 2 cents lower than last month and 16 cents higher than last year.In San Diego, the price is $1.743, which is two-tenths of a cent below last week's level, three-tenths of a cent above last month and 10 cents higher than last year. Motorists in the central coast pay an average price of $1.822, which is 1.4 cents lower than last week's price, 2 cents below last month and 19 cents higher than last year. "Last week's slight rise in gas price was due, primarily, to an increased demand for ethanol blended gasoline," said Carol Thorp, Auto Club spokesperson. "Refineries in California, New York and Connecticut must complete their change from MTBE to ethanol blends by Jan. 1. California refineries have already completed the process, but as other states eliminate MTBE and the demand for ethanol increases, it could push up gasoline prices here in California in early 2004. As long as there are no supply disruptions, we can expect to see prices at or close to their current level for the rest of 2003."