California Restaurants Want Fee Money Back From a Government That Isn't Letting Them Operate to Capacity

Restaurants in five counties are threatening legal action.


A group of California restaurants have filed claims to get back over $100 million in various fees paid to state and local government, arguing that since coronavirus restrictions now prevent them from being able to survive economically, they should no longer be on the hook for these government-imposed costs of doing business.

California's COVID-19 restrictions on restaurant operation vary county by county, and the claims filed this week via lawyer Brian Kabateck involve establishments in Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange, Sacramento, and San Diego counties, with more legal action from more counties threatened.

As reported in Desert Sun via the Associated Press, "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 restaurants involved in the claims—which could be a prelude to a class-action lawsuit—"contend they have been being unjustly punished for following the law and are being charged for permits they can't use," notes the Desert Sun. One Los Angeles restaurateur paid over $7,000 in yearly fees beyond property taxes to legally operate and gripes he's now being hit with late fines for fees he can't pay because he can't operate.

Some of the restaurants are forbidden from offering indoor dining while others may operate indoors with limited capacity. But outdoor dining and delivery are often not enough to keep them afloat. The California restaurant industry had employed 1.4 million people, but thanks to COVID-19, reports the California Restaurant Association, up to one million of them have faced layoffs or furloughs.

As Kabateck told the Sacramento Bee, forcing restaurants to pay for operating permits when they are being forced to operate in a manner that can't keep them going is "offensive and tone deaf….Restaurant owners are obligated to pay these government fees just to operate, yet the same government entities who have collected those fees have forced these businesses to close their doors or drastically restrict operations due to the pandemic."

NEXT: Illinois' Governor Begs Citizens To Let Government Tax Them Even More

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  1. Nice bidness you have here be a shame if somtink happened to it.

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  3. Wow, so you can collect the protection money and still fuck the business owner mercilessly?

    Not even the mafia was this ballsy.

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  4. CA gets their progressive totalitarianism good and hard. I tell my wife the faster CA burns and dies the better, ship all the evil retard proggies and socialists to Denver and Austin, then rebuild CA.

    1. Just because progressivism failed in California doesn’t mean it doens’t work. It just means it wasn’t implemented correctly. They should go to your state and do it right this time. Then there will be paradise. Just give them one more chance.

      1. Well played.

    2. It was better when they were all concentrated. They were easier to avoid, now they’re ruining multiple other “good” states.

  5. No no. Your revenue stops, not ours.

  6. If your business can’t afford the fees, you shouldn’t be in business.
    Am I progging right?

    1. Looks correct to me!

    2. Government *needs* the money. Businesses can just manage things and make it all better. Right?

      1. Businesses are all owned by the rich. We need to stick to ’em.

    3. If you can’t afford the income tax you shouldn’t be alive.

    4. That liquor license you have there. You didn’t build that. So, pay up and be grateful you have the privilege of doing business.

    5. small correction – “If your business can’t afford the fees your political ideology compulsively supports”………………. The NATURAL laws of basic finance will put you out of business…

    6. No joke, what you wrote makes perfect sense. Who pays for permits for businesses they’re not operating? If you’re closed and don’t pay the fee, what are you, more closed?

    7. Well, since government is an “essential service” and providing food is clearly a “service of privilege”, we think you’ve captured the essence of the dynamic.
      ~Cali Government

      1. “”service of privilege”” ???? Is that a real term? It sure does seem appropriate, but I’d be amazed if anyone of the governmental / administrative caste would have the self-awareness / balls /stupidity to actually say that out loud.

  7. Take it up with the Rona. It’s calling the shots now.

    1. Rona isn’t more virulent than the flu. This is government overreach plain and simple.

  8. And this is the Democrats’ ideal model for the entire country.

  9. California restaurant owners need to become Utah/Texas/Florida/tennessee restaurant owners.

    1. Not if they’ll just vote for the same stupid shit when they get here. And judging by the Biden/Harris yard signs I see in houses with driveways filled with cars that have CA dealership signs on them: they do.

      1. So correct. Nashville just increased property taxes 34%. It really is sad.

        1. You can afford that, right? The value of your home and land is a liquid asset, right?

          1. He’ll be able to afford it once their policies create a California-style housing shortage! He’ll be GLAD for it then, especially if he isn’t near a homeless encampment.

  10. If schools shouldn’t get funding if they aren’t open (and they shouldn’t) then restaurants shouldn’t be taxed while they are ordered to be closed.

    The way out of this pandemic is to starve the beast because it has shown itself to be grossly incompetent.

    1. Public schools shouldn’t get funding regardless…

  11. I’d offer them to come to Texas, but we have taken as many Californians as we can.

      1. Sadly illegal.

        1. Is it?

    1. I hear there’s still plenty of room for refugee camps in west Texas.

      1. So long as they can’t vote, sure.

      2. They’re welcome here in Utah, for sure.

        In unrelated news, the state has refurbished the old Topaz relocation camp out in the West Desert. Lacks amenities, shelter, vegetation and arable land, but other than that, it’s pretty nice.

    2. I heard Texas was lost in a freak boating accident.

      1. It was just “poof” and it was gone. There was this flash of light and then nothing.

        1. The Eschaton grabbed us, we’re fine. We just have to remind Elon every so often to stop fucking with that time machine he keeps going on and on about.

  12. That’s not how this game works.

  13. The fees don’t allow you to operate. They allow you to exist. There’s a subtle but important distinction there.

    1. Please explain. You saying you can’t call your (closed) building a restaurant without a fee? Can’t remind people you intend to reopen some day unless you pay a fee? What does “exist” mean in this case?

      Why is any sucker paying this? Are the fees due, like, quarterly on Jan. 1, April 1, etc. in advance, and if you anticipate operating during the coming quarter you have to have the fee in or wait until the next quarter?

      1. Why do you think fees in arrears would not be demanded—with interest accrued, naturally—before the business would be allowed to reopen?

        1. How could “arrears” accumulate on a business license that was no longer in force? The state closes the bars, so you close yours, you no longer have a bar, you don’t need a license, you don’t owe a fee. When the state reopens the bars, you get a new license, then you start paying the fees for that. Or a restaurant. Am I missing some important detail?

          1. You are obviously not familiar with the State modification of the biblical expression: “California taketh, but never gives away”.

            1. What makes you say that? They strew money around like crazy. Why wouldn’t they throw some their way?

              1. @Roberta
                “What makes you say that? They strew money around like crazy. Why wouldn’t they throw some their way?”

                Why, LOTS of reasons! Not a campaign contributor (or misdirected contribution), disfavored demographic designation, serves a non-stylish or non-culturally-enriched clientele, Trump sign/absence of BLM sign, etc., etc.

                If they just “strew it about”, the CDPC subjects them to mandatory corrective “Governance Seminars”, which can include shaming, criticism sessions and good ol’ beatings.

          2. Closed doesn’t mean ‘no longer exists.’ It means the entity simply can’t be open for business.

            Government has zero qualms about insisting on their money, despite changed circumstances resulting in an inability to pay. See, child support orders, student loan payments, tax deficiencies of all kinds, etc…

          3. Many licenses once lost require massive hurdles to regain. Inspection fees, or application fees, or wait times, etc. Also in the case of liquor if you lose it you risk an inability to regain it if a school or church opens in the meantime. At least that’s the law in parts of Texas. I don’t know in CA. So if I own a bar in a strip center that I lose the license at because of failure to pay or failure to comply with laws and the next month a daycare opens in the strip center I can no longer reobtain my license.

  14. I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.

    1. Darth Vader worked for the government.

      1. Vader was an unelected bureaucrat slash political appointee.

        1. All the scariest ones are.

      2. L’etat c’est moi!

  15. How often are those fees due? Why don’t they wait to pay until they can use them? How can they possibly be hurt by a failure to pay? When you close a bar, you don’t continue to pay a license for the business you’re no longer in, do you? So something’s funny here.

    1. “When you close a bar, you don’t continue to pay a license for the business you’re no longer in, do you?”

      Though I doubt such is the case in CA, for other places that issue only a fixed number of liquor licenses, licensees certainly do whatever they can to keep their license active. Of course, that assumes a reentry into that business type, in that area, at some point.

  16. I’m not surprised.

    Disgusted, but not surprised.

  17. It will snow in Death Valley in August before any California government returns one red cent, or halts the licensing clock when a business is closed by government order.

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  19. Kind of reminds me of how insurance companies have given hundreds of millions of dollars in auto insurance rebates to drivers who aren’t driving as much during COVID.

    Whats the chance that we will see altruistic government officials follow the lead of profit-driven corporations?

    1. Why should they? They have no competition.

    2. Depends.

      Can the action be made to seem “virtuous” to an extent that it will generate Twitter “likes”. Can this petty end be achieved while decreasing the fee/payment/tax obligation by only a tiny amount?
      Can the action be taken in a manner seen to be in accordance with the “diversity, inclusion and equity (DIE) that we, as a stae, are committed to in order to create a safe, fair and honorable society which…” (then they go on like a bunch of gaywads but it hurts my brain)

      sheesh. You people must think governing is easy or somethin’…

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