Note: the article below is a proposal I made back in 1998 for area code relief in Orange County, California. As of , area code 714 is overlaid with 657, following the same boundaries shown on the map below. As of 2004, the area of Riverside County shown there is now in area code 951; the area of San Bernardino County on the map remains in 909 (with an overlay of 840). Also, as of , area code 760, serving a large swath of southern California including northern San Diego County, is overlaid with 442. For a list of specific towns in each area code, see the Cities page.

Proposal for Area Code Relief

Area Codes 714 and 949
Orange County, California

Area code 714 recently underwent a geographic split, creating the new 949 area code. This split is still in permissive status, meaning that numbers in the 949 area can still be reached using the 714 area code, but planning is already underway for the next area code in Orange County. Public hearings will be held in Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, and Anaheim, on September 15 and 16 to discuss proposals for a new area code to be added in the 714 area (northern Orange County).

The 714/949 area code split was, by all accounts, a messy one. Four major cities in Orange County are divided: Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Irvine, and Tustin.

map of the 714/949 split from 1998

Three proposals for further relief of the new 714 area code will be discussed at the public hearings. The first is a traditional geographic split, in which the coastal area (Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Westminster, and Huntington Beach) will be in one area code and the inland area in another. (The decision of which side would keep 714 will only be made after the split boundary is final.) The second proposal is a slight variation, adding Orange to the coastal side of the split. The third proposal is an overlay, in which the new area code would cover the same territory as the 714 area code.

The new area code 949 is projected to have enough numbers to last until 2002 or 2003. At that time, the only reasonable option is an overlay, since otherwise some customers would have to change their numbers twice within a period of five years or less.

My proposal — a “Creeping” Overlay on 714 and later 949

I propose a slight variation on the overlay option. Specifically,

This option is similar to plans recently adopted in Texas and Illinois. The Dallas and Houston areas recently underwent very confusing splits that divided the cities themselves, as well as many suburbs, while providing only very brief relief from the numbering crunch. When all four of the resulting area codes almost immediately came up for further relief, the Texas PUC decided to erase the most recent splits and implement overlays that cover the “inner” and “outer” portions of each metropolitan area. While the public in these areas has been slow to embrace overlays, the response to erasing the unpopular splits has been encouraging. In Illinois, an overlay was recently approved for area code 847 in the northern suburbs of Chicago, but with the explicit option of later expanding the overlay to cover some of the other area codes in the region.

This proposal has a number of advantages:

If you support this proposal,

please contact the CPUC. You can attend the public hearings, send e-mail to the CPUC Public Advisor in the Los Angeles office (, or send mail to the
California Public Utilities Commission,
107 S. Broadway, Room 5109,
Los Angeles CA 90012-4572.
You should clearly state that your comments are regarding the matter of “714 area code relief.”

I believe that this simple, elegant solution best serves the interests of both residential and business customers in Orange County. It does not impose any significant costs on any party, but provides real benefits for many people.


The CPUC decided to overlay area code 714. Area code 949 will be dealt with separately when it next comes up for area code relief. Although it is theoretically possible for the CPUC to then decide to reunite 714 and 949, it is unlikely to happen.

Epilogue, Mark II

The CPUC has suspended all overlays in California, including the 714/657 overlay for northern Orange County. No decision has been made regarding relief of the 949 area code.

Epilogue, Mark III

On , the 657 overlay (on 714 only) took effect. Area code 949, thanks to number conservation efforts, is now projected to run out of numbers in the year 2034! Area codes 714 & 657 will need additional relief in 2039.

Epilogue, Mark IV

On , area code 909 will be overlaid with area code 840. California has not had an area code split since 2004. However, in downtown Los Angeles in 2017 and in San Diego in 2018, California effected two “boundary-elimination overlays,” meaning that two existing adjacent area codes (213 and 323 in L.A.; 619 and 858 in San Diego) were combined into an overlay, with the boundary between them officially erased.