Business · COVID-19

As Calif. restaurants fight to claw back local fees, Valley spared from lawsuits

Restaurant owners throughout California are fighting their respective counties and the state to receive a reimbursement on fees paid since restaurants have been shut down for a large part of the last year with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, all counties in the Central Valley have steered clear so far. 

Spearheaded by Los Angeles lawyer Brian Kabateck, lawsuits were filed this week against Sacramento, San Francisco, Orange and San Diego Counties along with California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control. 

Those lawsuits come on the heels of a December filing against Los Angeles County. 

Kabateck has also filed government compliments against Alameda, Monterey, Placer, Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Clara Counties, which gives those counties 45 days to respond. The complaints serve as a precursor to a lawsuit filing. 

Reports estimate that California restaurants pay anywhere from a couple thousand dollars up to $10,000, for alcohol licenses, health permits and tourism assessments. 

Kabateck and the restaurant owners are asking for a prorated refund to account for the time that restaurants have not been allowed to operate like normal. 

In October 2020, Kabateck told GV Wire that he planned to file a complaint against Fresno County, which would have eventually led to a lawsuit. 

However, that claim never materialized.

A spokesperson for Kabateck told The Sun that the Fresno County Board of Supervisors was receptive to the local restaurant owners’ wishes to have the fees returned. 

“Some entities have reached out to say they are willing to do the right thing and return these fees, and we’re hopeful other counties will follow suit,” Kabateck told the San Francisco Business Times, adding that Fresno County was one such entity. 

With the Fresno County complaint never emerging and none others filed with any counties across the region, the Central Valley will remain free from the class-action lawsuit for the time being.

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.