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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Officials Press for County to Retain 805 Area Code

Telecommunications: Citing region's population and industry, leaders speak at PUC-sponsored session dealing with plan for split from regions to north in 2002.

March 09, 2000|KATIE COOPER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Touting the region's booming high-tech industry and its sizable population, local government leaders Wednesday pleaded their case for Ventura County to keep the 805 area code over its rivals to the north.

In a meeting in Ventura sponsored by the state Public Utilities Commission and attended by representatives of the telecommunications industry, local politicians argued that the county is more deserving of the area code than Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Preliminary plans call for splitting the area code in 2002 essentially along the line between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, except for a small portion of Santa Barbara County, which would be included in the Ventura County area code. Only one region would keep 805.

Telecommunication companies later this year will make recommendations to the PUC on how best to respond to the rapidly disappearing stock of numbers in the area code. The numbers are dwindling because of the proliferation of faxes, pagers, cell phones and Internet service providers.

An overlay code--under which all 805 users would be required to punch 11 digits for local calls--is another possibility, but has proven unpopular elsewhere.

With a larger population and more businesses, local officials argued that Ventura County would suffer disproportionately if it lost 805.

"Ventura County is more densely populated and, while still rural in some areas, is also a more urbanized population," county Supervisor Kathy Long said.

Presenting a resolution from the Simi Valley City Council, Councilman Steve Sojka said an area code change would hurt businesses along the Ventura Freeway's high-tech corridor.

Those companies--like others throughout the county--could lose customers and would be forced to spend a lot of money buying new business cards and stationery.

"Think about our proximity to the world's seventh-largest market: Los Angeles," he said.

Port Hueneme Mayor Murray Rosenbluth raised concerns about the sheer number of telephones at the Naval Construction Battalion Center.

"I think that raises national security concerns," he said.

Rosenbluth also asked why a separate code could not be created for cell phones, pagers and faxes.

Dan Burcham, a spokesman from the North America Numbering Plan Administration, which makes recommendations on new codes to the PUC, said federal law prohibits specific codes for limited uses.

He said a delay in the split may be possible under new state legislation requiring available numbers to be allotted to telephone companies in smaller blocks than previously allowed.

A study of unused numbers will be concluded by early October.

After hearing comments from officials in Santa Barbara County on Wednesday night and San Luis Obispo County today, representatives of the telecommunications industry will meet in April to formulate their recommendations, which will be forwarded to the PUC, Burcham said.

The commission is expected to issue a decision early next year.

Even if the commission allows Ventura County to keep the 805 code, it would only have an estimated life span of less than 12 years. Further relief efforts would be necessary at that point, Burcham said.

Members of the public may comment on the proposed change by writing to the California Public Utilities Commission, Telecommunications Division, 3rd Floor, 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco 94102.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Splitting 805 Proposed

A proposal has been made to divide the 805 area code into two parts. However, it is unclear which new area would retain the 805 area code or adopt a new one.

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Source: Lockheed Martin

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