“Everyone loves 415,” said Christine Falvey, Mayor Ed Lee’s spokeswoman. But she said federal rules required some sort of change.
The City’s Small Business Commission had hoped to persuade state regulatory agency the California Public Utilities Commission to leave San Francisco with 415 only. But on Thursday, the CPUC voted to overlay the 628 area code onto the existing 415 region, which covers San Francisco and Marin counties.
The change is necessary, according to the agency, because by October 2015 all the 415 numbers will be used up.
Lee advocated for the overlay in light of another alternative. “This is a better outcome for San Francisco than the geographic north-south split originally proposed, which would have been very disruptive for our small businesses and residents,” Falvey said.
Some business advocates wanted to change the Marin County area code altogether to free up 415 numbers for San Francisco, which would then in the future have its own unique overlay when it needed more phone numbers.
“It’s about business identity,” said Regina Dick-Endrizzi, executive director of the Office of Small Business, adding that the CPUC decision was “not ideal.”
There is a bright side, Dick-Endrizzi said: Of all the possible three-digit combinations, 628 has an agreeable harmony.
“628 is a little easier to say; it rolls off your tongue,” she said.
Dick-Endrizzi said now that the decision has been made, the business community will adapt.
“San Francisco’s small businesses are capable and innovative, and will likely build a San Francisco brand identity to the 628 area code equal to the 415 area code,” she said.