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California Public Utilities Commission seal. (Photo: CPUC.ca.gov)

Northern California Gets New Area Code Due To Population Shifts Throughout Area

350 area code added to 209 area

By Evan Symon, November 29, 2022 2:30 am

A new area code for all or parts of 13 Northern Californian counties began on Monday, signifying a shift of population away from the Bay Area to cheaper areas in surrounding counties, adding 350 in an area already served by the 209 area code.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the new 350 number in May, due to the growing need in the current 209 area which covers all or part of Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties. The area, which includes cities which have become magnets for residents hoping for cheaper housing, such as Modesto, Stockton, and Merced, began running out of numbers in the past few years, necessitating the approval, which is set to begin today.

In a press release, CPUC stressed that while both 209 and 350 will be in the same local call area, an added +1 prefix will now be needed to call the new numbers.

“Beginning November 28, 2022, the new 350 area code becomes effective,” said CPUC in a press release earlier this month. “On and after that date, customers in the 209/350 area code overlay region may be assigned a number in the new 350 area code when they request new service or an additional line. Customers receiving a 350 area code will be required to dial 1 + the area code and phone number for all local calls, just as customers with telephone numbers from the 209 area code do today. The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.”

The last new area code to be distributed was in 2018, when the East Bay area added 341 in addition to the longtime 510 area code. Like the new 350 area code, the new code was put into place, in part, to serve population shifts.

“The Oakland 510 code started running out of numbers about 5 years ago due to those population shifts, but also due to the number of new businesses popping up there due to the tech boom,” added Jim Mankiewicz, an area code researcher based in Boston, to the Globe on Monday. “Plus, a lot of people moving out of Oakland refused to give up their number. You know, you see this all over California and Texas and Florida and Tennessee and Nevada – anywhere there is a large number of transplants. You keep the number and area code. A lot of Oakland people kept theirs when they moved out, and it kind of clogged things up there.

“For the new 350 number, it’s the same population shift causing it. A lot of people in San Francisco and San Jose moved out to this area code to escape those insane housing prices in the 2010s, and again to go somewhere more rural in the 2020s during the pandemic. Some switched over cell numbers, but others created businesses, added new lines, or had a very demanding businesses that was number heavy. 209 quickly ran out. Area codes always show this sort of thing.

“It also causes havoc for a little bit. 209/350 is a big area, so it will take some getting used to, but it hurts more in a narrower area, like when New York or another major city has a new code within their city. Local calls are thrown up in the air. Luckily, with cell phones, all that confusion is mostly gone now, but still, it is always going to happen to some degree.”

The new 350 numbers began being distributed by phone companies on Monday.

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Evan Symon
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