Overburdening overlays


    At our meeting of Jan. 12,1999, we endorsed the concept of an “overlay” area code for cellular telephones, fax machines, pagers and computer modems for Southern California.

    The proliferation of new area codes in Southern California has created confusion, inconvenience and increased costs for residents and businesses alike. The latest occurrence is on area code 213. The area formerly served by the 213 area code will include the new 323 code.

    This is especially confusing because it will be in the shape of a doughnut, with the remaining 213 area code in the doughnut’s hole. As a result, a motorist driving from Pasadena or Glendale to LAX will start in the 626 or 818 area code, enter 323 area code, leave 323 area code and enter 213 area code, leave 213 area code and enter 323 area code again, and finally (for now) enter the 310 area code.

    An alternative to the endless division of area codes is the overlay concept in which one area code is assigned for all of the cellular telephones, fax machines, pagers, and computer modems in the region. New York City, which was the last telephone market allowed to segregate wireless carriers by area code, has had to add only one area code in the past 12 years.

    It is time to put an end to the proliferation of new area codes,which causes much pain without any commensurate benefit.

    Don Knabe, Gloria Molina, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Zev Yaroslavsky, Michael D. Antonovich,

    county supervisors