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.
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,
- Overlay 714 with the new code in , as proposed.
- When 949 needs relief (estimated date: 2002 or 2003), hold further public hearings to consider whether 949 should receive a separate overlay or join the 714 code under a single overlay.
- If public reaction is favorable, in about mid-2002, the overlay code would be expanded to cover both 714 and 949, and the boundary would be officially erased.
- Any further relief in the area would be effected by adding additional overlay area codes, without regard to the current 714/949 boundary.
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:
- Reunites divided communities in Orange County.
- Recreates consumer-friendly, easily remembered boundary, closely corresponding to the Orange County limits. The variations along the San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino County lines are mostly in sparsely populated areas. The variations along the Los Angeles County line have existed since 1951, so they are familiar and well understood.
- Preserves 7-digit dialing in the 949 area code for approximately two years, but then gives new customers a well-known, established code instead of an unfamiliar new code.
- Reduces inefficiencies in allocating telephone numbers in the area.
- If for some reason customers in the 949 area want a separate overlay instead of a unified overlay, that option is preserved.