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Breaking Up (805) May Not Be That Hard to Do


A plan unveiled Tuesday to split the sprawling 805 area code proposes dividing the region either on a north-south or east-west axis, but would keep Ventura County largely intact.

One option would put most of Ventura County into the same area code as northern Los Angeles County. The other would lump the coastal counties--Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo--in a single region.

"We try and keep counties as whole as possible when we can; we try to keep cities as whole as possible when we can," said Doug Hescox, California administrator for the California-Nevada Code Administration, the industry group that since 1984 has overseen telephone number distribution.

Undecided is which region would retain the 805 area code after the split and which would receive an unspecified new one. The California Public Utilities Commission will make a decision on the area code partition later this year; the split could come in early 1999.

The high-tech explosion of telecommunications equipment is propelling the need for new area codes.

People have an opportunity to voice a preference among the proposals at any of six meetings that begin May 28 throughout the region.

"The three [communities] that really said they needed to stay together were San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties," Hescox said.

Under the east-west option, that request is honored. The three coastal counties would be grouped with tiny portions of Monterey, Fresno and Kings counties. To the east, portions of Kern and Los Angeles counties would share another phone code with small, largely unpopulated areas of Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Tulare counties.

The western region would need to be split yet again in eight to 10 years, and the east in 14 to 16 years, planners predict.

However, under the north-south option, most of Ventura and Los Angeles counties would be placed in the same area code along with a portion of southeastern Kern County. Areas to the north would receive a different area code.

Residents can express their views on the proposed area code split at Valencia Town Center community room, 24201 W. Valencia Blvd., 7 to 9 p.m. June 4.

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