Permit Relief to Small Food Businesses

Information regarding the permit fee relief program and FAQs are now available in different languages (PDF): 

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On Tuesday, March 14, 2023, the Board of S​upervisors unanimously approved another round of permit fee relief for small food businesses impacted by COVID-19 that operate under a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Health (DEH).  The County understands the ongoing challenges of small food businesses as a result of the pandemic. As such DEH will issue a one-time credit equivalent to the annual cost of your existing permit fees for the following:

  • Restaurants and other Food Service Facilities with up to 25 employees (including mobile food facilities and cottage food operators) AND with two or fewer locations in the County operated by the same owner as of March 14, 2023.  Permits held by governmental entities or facilities not open to the general public (i.e. employer-run cafeterias) are not eligible for this fee relief program.
  • Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation participants in 2023.

There is no need to enroll or apply for this program.  The credit will be automatically applied to the accounts of qualified businesses and the credit will be reflected on their billing statements prior to the expiration of their permits. 

Please note that this is a one-time credit and any outstanding charges will need to be paid to keep your account current.  In the event that a credit is issued in error, DEH reserves the right to make any necessary corrections. 

If you have any questions regarding this program, please contact our office at [email protected].

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Information regarding the permit fee relief program and FAQs are now available in different languages (PDF): 

中文 | Español | Tagalog Tiếng Việt​

1.  What is the fee relief program?

The fee relief program was approved by the Board of Supervisors on March 14, 2023 to provide continued support to certain small business owners particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by crediting their account for the cost of their current annual operating permit issued by the Department of Environmental Health.

2.  What types of small businesses are eligible for this permit fee relief program?

The following small business are eligible for this permit fee relief program:

  • Restaurants and other Food Service Facilities with up to 25 employees (including mobile food facilities and cottage food operators) AND with two or fewer locations in the County operated by the same owner as of March 14, 2023.  Permits held by governmental entities or facilities not open to the general public (i.e. employer-run cafeterias) are not eligible for this fee relief program.
  • Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation participants in 2023.

3.  How does the fee relief program work?

All small businesses that meet the criteria will receive a one-time credit on their account for the full amount of their annual permit fees.  Businesses will see this credit on their annual invoice at their usual billing cycle starting in March 15, 2023.  There is no need to enroll or apply for this program, this is automatically completed for all qualifying small businesses.

4.  How do I know if I meet the criteria to qualify?

The fee relief program is designed to support small business owners, therefore only business owners who own up to two DEH permitted businesses within Santa Clara County qualify.  Each business that is qualified must be operated by the same owner on or before March 14, 2023.

5.  Can I receive a refund for permit fees I already paid?

No. No refunds will be provided.  The credit will be applied to qualified accounts and automatically used for future permit in the next billing cycle.

6.  I already paid my permit fees this year, will I benefit from this fee relief program?

Yes.  All eligible businesses will receive a one-time credit on their account at their usual billing cycle starting on March 15, 2023.  If you have already paid for the year, this credit will be reflected on your next scheduled invoice.  No refunds will be provided for permit fees paid.

7.  Does my account with Department of Environmental Health have to be in good standing or have a zero balance to receive the credit?

If your business meets the eligibility criteria you will automatically receive a credit on your account.  However, this credit will offset whatever balance you may currently have except for enforcement costs and other service charges (i.e., - plan check fees or enforcement costs).

8.  We are a catering company that has more than 25 employees, however, we pay the permits for the several businesses we contract with who have fewer than 25 employees.  Will we get the credit?

The credit will be applied to accounts based on the criteria and on your ownership records on file with DEH.  If the food business has ownership at more than 2 locations or has more 25 or more employees on site, the business is not eligible for the permit relief program.

9.  Are there any other fee relief programs that I qualify for?

This site is dedicated to permit fee relief for Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health.  For other small business assistance, we suggest you contact your local chamber of commerce, the Small Business Administration​, and visit the website for the city your business is located in.  The State of California provides information on COVID-19 relief and assistance for small business: https://sco.ca.gov/covid19ReliefAndAssistanceSM.html

10.  Where is the funding coming from for the permit relief program and will I need to pay it back?

The Board of Supervisors approved spending $6 million dollars for this program out of the General Fund.  It is intended to ensure that all eligible small businesses would not need to repay the credit they get for their annual permit fee for one year only. 

11.  Do I have to pay my DEH permit fees in future years, after receiving the permit fee credit?

Yes. This program was only applicable for the current year.  After the credit has been used on your account, you must still pay the annual permit fees

12.  I started my new small business after March 14, 2023 and I meet the eligible business criteria.  Can I get the fee credit for my first year of permit fees?

No.  The permit fee relief program applies only to businesses that were in operation on or before March 14, 2023.

13.  When does the program end?

This one-time fee credit will be applied no later than February 15, 2024 to complete the 12 months billing cycle.  If you receive your bill and think you are qualified and do not receive this credit, please contact DEH at [email protected].

14.  I have read all the frequently asked questions and still have additional questions, who can I contact?

Please send your request to [email protected] . 

Information regarding the permit fee relief program and FAQs are now available in different languages (PDF): 

中文 | Español | Tagalog Tiếng Việt​

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