$4.5 Million Settlement Cleared For San Diego Restaurant Owners Over Permit Fees

January 21, 2022

Today a judge issued final approval for a $4.5 million class-action settlement, meaning permit fee refunds are going out in the mail to San Diego restaurant owners over the next 30 days.

In October 2020, San Diego County bars and restaurants, led by Cowboy Star in the East Village, joined other California eateries in filing the prerequisite claims for a class-action lawsuit against state and local governments in order to recoup fees paid to them, including liquor licenses, health permits, and state tourism assessments. The claims came as restaurants across the state faced unprecedented challenges to stay open and maintain cash reserves during the first year of the ongoing COVID-19 era. In July 2021, a settlement of $4.5 million in permit fee refunds was reached, which cover the period of March 16, 2020 through June 15, 2021. 

The class-action settlement with San Diego County benefits all restaurants and limited food preparation facilities that paid or were required to pay annual permit fees to the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality. It provides a 50% refund of yearly permit fees to restaurants that paid and 50% credit to those that owe the fees. The settlement also waives late fees for untimely payment of permit fees that were due through that period, as long as the fees are paid within 12 months of the original due date or by December 31, 2021, whichever is sooner.

Because it is a class action all San Diego County Restaurants are enrolled automatically and will get the credit or refund. The 50% refund will automatically be mailed to Class Member’s last known address of each Class Member within six months of the Final Effective Date. For any checks returned as undeliverable, the County Defendants will attempt to obtain a current address and promptly re-mail the refund check to the Class Members. The total amount of refund checks that remain uncashed 9 months after the check date, will be distributed to the California Restaurant Association Foundation.

There's litigation still pending against the state and 11 counties, including Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Monterey, Sonoma, San Bernardino, Riverside, Placer, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Orange County, seeking refunds for state and local fee assessments.

The Class Action Settlement Agreement is included below for review.