805/ 820 Area Code map

Telecommunications officials have approved a new area code overlay region. Starting next year, customers requesting a new phone number in the 805 region may get a number that starts with 820. 

Contributed

Change is coming to the 805.

On Dec. 1, the way phone numbers are dialed in the 805 area code region will begin to change to prepare the district for a new area code addition -- 820-- that will address a growing shortage of available phone numbers.

Starting next month, anyone making a phone call in the 805 area code zone will have to dial 1 plus the area code, then the seven-digit phone number, even if calling a next-door neighbor.

Last year, the national agency that regulates phone numbers -- the North American Numbering Plan Administrator -- petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission to add a new area code to the local region because of a decrease in availability of 805 numbers.

The North American Numbering Plan Administrator forecast that the 805 area code would use up all its available prefixes by the end of 2017. Adding a new area code to the 805 region, officials said, would provide more prefixes and ensure telephone numbers are available for new customers. 

After a series of public hearings, the Utilities Commission in May approved the request and timeline for the area code changes.

Telephone companies will begin issuing phone numbers with the new 820 area code after June 30. The current 805 number will be given out until the supply is depleted.  

Instead of splitting the region, which would have forced some of those who currently have an 805 phone number to get a new phone number, telecommunications officials proposed an overlay area code change, which was approved. 

“Residents and businesses with telephone numbers from the 805 area code will retain their current telephone numbers and area code,” said Terrie Prosper, spokeswoman for the Utilities Commission. 

The first day of December will mark the start of a six-month permissive dialing period, put in place so users can get used to the change. During that period, calls made without dialing 1 and 805 will go through. 

The permissive dialing period was put in place so users can get used to the coming change.

On June 2, anyone making a call without dialing 1 plus the area code and the seven digits will hear an error message, and the call will not be completed as dialed.

Santa Maria city officials want residents and businesses to be aware of the coming change to ensure that everyone is prepared.

“This new 820 area code overlay means that any programmed seven-digit phone numbers will have to be reprogrammed to 11 digits, to include 1 and the area code. This will affect alarm systems, fax machines, gate systems, automatic dialers, call forwarding and event emergency alert systems,” said Mark van de Kamp, city spokesman.

The price of a call, and other rates and services, will not change because of the new 820 area code overlay, telecommunications officials said.

Calls to three-digit service numbers, like 911, 211 and 511, will not change.

Logan B. Anderson covers city government in Santa Maria for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter: @LoganBAnderson.

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