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PUC Again Postpones Vote Over Proposed Split in 310 Area Code

Panel gets more time to assess moves by federal agency that could free up telephone numbers.

August 22, 2003|Jean Merl | Times Staff Writer

The California Public Utilities Commission granted another short reprieve on Thursday to South Bay telephone users by again delaying a vote on an unpopular proposal to split the 310 area code.

The postponement, until the PUC's Oct. 16 meeting, gave the commission more time to assess whether recent and pending actions by the Federal Communications Commission would free up enough telephone numbers to avoid the need for a new area code in the region.

South Bay community leaders as well as representatives in Congress and the Legislature have fought the split, citing high costs to businesses and inconvenience to residents, especially the elderly.

The new area code would be established for communities south of Imperial Highway, including El Segundo, Hawthorne, Compton, Torrance, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.

The split proposal first surfaced about four years ago.

The measure was defeated then, but in May a state regulatory judge said the 310 area code was rapidly running out of numbers and recommended that the South Bay be broken off and given a new 424 area code.

The recommendation touched off renewed protests and redoubled efforts to find number-saving alternatives, such as allowing cellular phone customers to keep their numbers when they switch carriers.

The PUC, which has the final say, has postponed the matter twice since June, raising hopes that a split could be avoided altogether or at least postponed for a few years.

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