On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved permit fee relief for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 that operate under a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Health (DEH). The County understands the plight of small businesses during the pandemic. As such DEH will issue a one-time credit equivalent to the annual cost of your existing permit fees for the following permittees with two or fewer locations in the County operated by the same owner as of March 9, 2021:
- Restaurants and other Food Service Facilities with up to 25 employees (including mobile food facilities and cottage food operators). 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.
- Food retailers & grocery stores up to 20,000 sq ft.
- Swimming pools and spas (swim schools, gyms, fitness centers). This does not include those operated in hotels, residential facilities, or by homeowners’ associations where the permitted activity is not instrumental to the core business operation.
- Body Art facilities and practitioners.
The fee credit will be automatically applied to accounts of eligible businesses on or before April 15, 2021. All qualified businesses will receive a notice in the mail along with a copy of their statement which will reflect the permit fee credit. There is no need to enroll or apply for this program, this is automatically completed for all qualifying small businesses.
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)
1. What is the fee relief program?
The fee relief program was approved by the Board of Supervisors on March 9, 2021 to support certain small business owners during 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). Permits held by governmental entities or facilities that are not normally open to the general public (i.e. employer-run cafeterias) are not eligible for this fee relief program.
• Food retailers & grocery stores up to 20,000 square feet.
• Swimming pools and spas (swim schools, gyms, and fitness centers). This does not include those operated in hotels, residential facilities or by homeowners’ associations where the permitted activity is not instrumental to the core business operation.
• Body Art facilities and practitioners.
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 starting in April 2021. 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 9, 2021.
5. What types of Environmental Health permit fees are not eligible for the fee relief program?
Fees paid for the management of hazardous, medical and solid waste are not eligible. Neither are any fees for public pools paid by hotels, homeowners’ Associations, apartment complexes, or mobile home parks. In addition, permits held by governmental entities or facilities that are not normally open to the general public (i.e., employer-run cafeterias) are not eligible for this fee relief program.
6. I have multiple types of permits with Environmental Health, will I receive a credit for all of them?
Maybe. If you qualify as a small business owner of food facilities, recreational health facilities and body art entities within Santa Clara County with no more than two businesses for each qualifying program, you will receive credits on each of your permits. Not all permit fees are eligible for the program as specified in #5 above.
7. I own 3 businesses in Santa Clara County, will I get permit relief on 2 of them?
No. The fee relief program is designed to assist small business owners who own 2 or less facilities for each qualifying program (food program, pools, body art) on or before march 9, 2021.
8. I closed my business due to COVID-19 and am not planning to reopen, can I receive a refund for permit fees I already paid?
No. No refunds will be provided. The program is designed to assist small business owners operating on or before March 9, 2021 that continue to operate.
9. 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 on April 15, 2021. This credit will be reflected on your next scheduled invoice.
10. 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). This means that if you currently owe additional annual permit fees, the credit will be applied to the oldest outstanding balance on your account first.
11. Will my Weights and Measures device registration fees be waived if I meet the eligible criteria?
Yes, Weights and Measures device registration fees will be waived for businesses with 2 or less locations and have 9 or less devices or price verifications through the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Management. For additional information please email [email protected].
12. 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.
13. I own a small auto repair shop that has been impacted by COVID-19 and is permitted by the Department of Environmental Health, why is my business not eligible for fee relief?
The fee relief does not apply to permits issued by the Hazardous Materials Compliance Division. Please see #1 above to determine eligible fee categories.
14. 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
15. 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 $5.5 million dollars for this program out of the General Fund as part of the contingency funding for the COVID-19 emergency. 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.
16. 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.
17. I started my new small business after April, 2021 when the credits were applied. 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 9, 2021.
18. When does the program end?
This one time fee credit will be applied on April 15, 2021. If you think you are qualified and do not receive this credit, please contact DEH at [email protected] before June 1, 2021.
19. I have read all the frequently asked questions and still have additional questions, who can I contact?
Please send your request to [email protected] and we will respond within two business days. Additionally, we will continue to update our frequently asked questions so please check back for future questions.
Thank you for your continued efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.