To meet the South Coast’s need for more telephone numbers, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is taking the first step toward adding an additional area code in the 805 Central Coast region. If it doesn’t, the 805 will run out of three-digit prefixes — the numbers immediately following an area code — in December 2018, according to an April report published by the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA).
“Area code exhaust” will force government officials to introduce a new code by June 2018, said NANPA’s senior director John Manning. With only 792 prefixes in each area code, explained senior Numbering Plan Area (NPA) relief planner Joe Cocke, just 40 remain in the 805. Each prefix forms 10,000 phone numbers, but some are unusable because they start with service numbers like 9-1-1, 2-1-1, or 5-5-5.
“This is a normal life cycle of an area code,” said Cocke, who pointed to similar shifts planned for downtown Los Angeles, Oakland, and Sacramento. “It’s not just unique to the Central Coast.”
It remains to be seen whether the tri-counties will opt for the “area code overlay” option, in which existing users keep their numbers and new users take the new area code, or what’s known as a “split,” in which a smaller region within the 805 sees a new area code tacked onto existing users’ numbers. In both scenarios, everyone will have to start dialing the area code, even when making a local call. Calls that were local before the new area code will remain so, according to the NANPA’s website.
Following public information meetings in Oxnard and San Luis Obispo — Santa Barbara meets 7 p.m., August 22 at the Eastside Library’s Martin Luther King Jr. Wing (1102 East Montecito Street) — the CPUC must still approve any proposed changes, which would be further vetted in a month of public comment. The phone carriers, said CPUC spokesperson Christopher Chow, are pushing for area code overlay.
Since 1957, when the region broke off from Los Angeles’s 213, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties, as well as parts of Monterey and Kern counties, have branded themselves as the idyllic 805 — a place to drink Firestone Walker’s 805 beer and be close to the sea and mountains. From marijuana dispensaries to boba shops (805 Greens, 805 Ink, Fitness 805, 805 Roadside Assistance & Towing, and 805 Boba), local businesses have branded themselves with the logo.
“Using 805 in the name is really geared towards locals,” said Michael Norris, owner of 805 Boba at Paseo Nuevo. Norris believes the new area code will offer out-of-towners a little more of a story behind the shop’s name. Owners at State Street’s 805 Ink, founded seven years ago, said “[We] don’t think it’ll change anything for us.” The shop plans to “keep it old school.”