pcloudyn.png
Monday August 2nd, 2021 9:03PM

Fed up: California restaurants seek booze, health fee refund

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California's financially battered restaurants filed government claims Monday to recover more than $100 million in fees for liquor and health permits and tourism charges that they say were assessed even though their businesses were shuttered or only partially operating under long-running coronavirus orders.

Few industries have been hit as hard during the pandemic as restaurants, which in California were ordered closed, reopened, closed for a second time and then allowed to welcome customers again, though with restrictions.

Those rules vary in the state's 58 counties and have limited some eateries to takeout and delivery service or outdoor-only dining. Thousands of restaurants have closed permanently.

Owners say one thing has remained constant amid the turmoil. State and county governments have continued to charge fees for liquor licenses, health permits and tourism assessments — even though the restaurants were closed down by government orders or permitted to operate with limited capacity and dining.

The owners contend they have been being unjustly punished for following the law and are being charged for permits they can't use.

“The irony is, they did what they were told and the very entity that told them to close is keeping these fees,” said attorney Brian Kabateck, who is representing restaurants that filed claims against the state and against Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento, San Diego and Monterey counties,.

Additional claims will be filed in coming days for restaurants in San Francisco and in Fresno and Placer counties. The move is supported by the California Restaurant Association.

“Somebody has to tell them this is wrong and to return the money,” Kabateck said.

Kabateck estimated the fees could exceed $100 million statewide.

A government claim, filed for individual restaurants and on behalf of other businesses in the sector, is a required initial step before filing a class-action lawsuit against government agencies in California. Officials have 45 days to respond.

Walter Schild, who owns the 33 Taps Hollywood gastropub in Los Angeles, said he pays about $7,000 annually in government fees beside property taxes — ranging from his liquor license to a levy on his valet service.

He's said he's been unable to get the fees reduced or delayed and is now being charged with late fees of up to 50% for failing to pay, even though the restaurant has been closed for all but about a month since mid-March.

With the restaurant closed, Schild has no income. He was recently forced to shutter another restaurant southeast of Los Angeles in Orange County because of the financial strain and laid off 30 employees.

The Hollywood restaurant lost money when he attempted takeout and delivery, and the lack of tourists gutted what would be the eatery's usual customer base.

"We have been pleading with our legislators for fee relief," Schild said. “It's been tough.”

The restaurant association previously urged Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to hold a special session of the Legislature to work on an aid package for their businesses.

Under state rules, counties with the highest infection rates are limited to outdoor dining only, along with takeout and delivery.

If those rates improve, restaurants can operate with 25% capacity indoors or 100 patrons, whichever is fewer. Even under the least restrictive rules, indoor capacity can only reach 50%.

Industry officials have said the rules will doom many more restaurants. California has nearly 60,000 restaurants that employ approximately 1.5 million workers.

“Even when the restrictions are lifted, the devastating impact on the restaurant industry will extend for years,” Jot Condie, who heads the restaurant association, said in a statement. “Easing fees would help enable establishments to stay open and keep vulnerable workers employed.”

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Health, AP Business
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Fed up: California restaurants seek booze, health fee refund
California restaurants want state and county officials to refund more than $100 million in fees for liquor and health permits and tourism assessments that they say were charged while their businesses were shut down or partially closed because of coronavirus rules
2:49PM ( 2 minutes ago )
Dolphins players say they're excited about Tua's 1st start
Tua Tagovailoa’s winning personality helped the Miami Dolphins avoid any locker room backlash when he was promoted to replace popular veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick
2:39PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Muslims call for French goods boycott to protest caricatures
Muslims in the Middle East and beyond are calling for boycotts of French products and for protests as a clash over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and the limits of free speech intensifies
2:30PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Low expectations in Mexico as US election approaches
A week before United States elections, expectations in Mexico are low
1:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
Stanley Cup visits children's cancer center in Tampa
Even during a pandemic, the NHL champion Tampa Bay Lightning brought the Stanley Cup to a local children’s cancer center so that kids and their families could see and take pictures with the famed trophy
1:41PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump charges into battleground states despite rising virus
President Donald Trump is intensifying his already breakneck travel schedule in the final full week of the presidential campaign despite growing worries about the coronavirus nationwide
1:40PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Paris train attack hero makes bid for Congress from Oregon
In 2015, Alek Skarlatos and two friends thwarted an attack by a gunman on a Paris-bound train, a dramatic and heroic action that was made into a movie by Clint Eastwood in which the trio starred as themselves
1:41PM ( 1 hour ago )
Turkish lira drops to record low over US sanction threat
The Turkish currency has fallen to an all-time low against the U.S. dollar after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan challenged the United States to slap sanctions over his government’s decision to test its Russian-made air defense system
1:39PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Trump holds 1st of 3 rallies in key Pennsylvania
President Donald Trump has wrapped up the first of three campaign rallies in Pennsylvania, where he told supporters that he wanted to discuss an issue of “existential importance” as he focuses on former Vice President Joe Biden’s policies on energy
1:24PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Dolphins players say they're excited about Tua's 1st start
Tua Tagovailoa’s winning personality helped the Miami Dolphins avoid any locker room backlash when he was promoted to replace popular veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick
2:39PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Muslims call for French goods boycott to protest caricatures
Muslims in the Middle East and beyond are calling for boycotts of French products and for protests as a clash over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and the limits of free speech intensifies
2:30PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Coronavirus deaths are rising again in the US, as feared
Deaths per day from the coronavirus in the U_S_ are on the rise again, just as health experts had feared, and cases are climbing in nearly every state, despite assurances from President Donald Trump over the weekend that “we’re rounding the turn, we’re doing great.”
2:26PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Under Trump, US no longer leads world on refugee protections
Refugees from places like the Congo and Iraq have seen their protections in the U.S. fade over the last four years as the Trump administration chips away at policies once designed to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable people
2:18PM ( 33 minutes ago )
60,000 in Southern California to evacuate after blaze grows
A fast-moving wildfire has forced evacuations for 60,000 people in Southern California as powerful winds across the state prompted power to be cut to hundreds of thousands to prevent utility equipment from sparking new blazes
2:18PM ( 34 minutes ago )