Fee Relief Program
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Fee Relief Program?
The Fee Relief Program was approved by the Board of Supervisors on June 8, 2021 to support certain businesses that had sales revenues directly impacted by COVID-19 Health Orders by crediting their account for the cost of certain annual operating fees charged by Environmental Health Services (EHS).
2. What types of small businesses are eligible for this Program?
The following businesses are eligible for this Program:
a. Restaurants and other foodservice facilities (including mobile food trucks and carts, cottage food operators, coffee shops, bakeries, candy shops, caterers, and breweries and wineries).
b. Food retailers and grocery stores up to 2,000 square feet.
c. Food retailers and grocery stores above 2,000 square feet, if they are independently owned and have two or fewer locations in the County.
d. Swimming pools and spas (swim schools, gyms, hotels, and fitness centers). This does not include those operated in residential facilities or by homeowners’ associations or where the permitted activity is not instrumental to the core business operation.
e. Body Art Program facilities and practitioners
f. Massage Program establishments (Unincorporated San Mateo County)
g. Hotels, Motels, and Bed & Breakfast Stays
h. Eligible Hazardous Materials Program (CUPA) facilities include:
- Manufacturing (not medical related)
- Auto Repair
- Gas Stations
- Private Transit
- Golf Courses
- Dry Cleaners
3. How does the Program work?
All eligible businesses that meet the criteria will receive a one-time credit on their account for certain annual fees. Businesses will see this credit on their annual invoice starting in July 2021. There is no need to enroll or apply for this Program (unless you are a large market above 2000 square feet); credits are automatically applied to all qualifying fees.
4. How do I know if I meet the criteria to qualify?
If you qualify, you will receive a credit on your next renewal invoice. For the full text of the Board of Supervisors Memo, click here.
The Program is designed to support businesses that had sales revenues directly impacted by COVID-19 Health Orders. Specific industries or business types were identified as eligible. Each business that qualifies must be legally operating with Environmental Health Services oversight on or before July 1, 2021.
5. What types of EHS permit fees are NOT eligible for the Fee Relief Program?
- Fees that are collected by EHS on behalf of the State (CUPA Oversight Surcharges, for example).
- Fees for tobacco retail, medical, and solid waste operations.
- Fees for public pools paid by homeowners’ associations, apartment complexes, mobile home parks, schools, or local government entities.
- Permits held by governmental entities or facilities that are not normally open to the general public (e.g., employer-run cafeterias).
- Fees for businesses in the following industries: healthcare, biotechnology, utilities, home improvement, and construction businesses
6. I have multiple types of permits with Environmental Health Services, will I receive a credit for all of them?
Maybe. Your invoice may reflect a variety of fees, some of which may be eligible. A credit will be applied to your account equal to the eligible fees.
7. I am eligible for the Program as a market above 2,000 square feet. What paperwork do I need to file?
8. I closed my business due to COVID-19 and do not plan 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 business owners operating on or before July 1, 2021, that continue to operate.
9. I already paid my permit fees this year, will I benefit from this Program?
Yes. All eligible businesses will receive a one-time credit on their account starting July 1, 2021. This credit will be reflected on your next scheduled invoice.
10. Does my account with EHS 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 penalties, State surcharges and other service charges (e.g., plan check fees or reinspection fees). This means that if you currently owe additional annual permit fees, the credit will be applied to the oldest outstanding balance on your account.
13. Are there any other fee relief programs that I may qualify for?
This site is dedicated to permit fee relief for San Mateo
County Environmental Health Services.
For additional small business assistance, the following resources are recommended:
- San Mateo County Strong Fund
- San Mateo County Economic Development Association
- U.S. Small Business Administration
- Local chambers of commerce
- The city your business is located in (view their website)
- The State of California’s COVID-19 relief and assistance for small businesses
- California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Fee Waiver Program
- California Department of Consumer Affairs License Fee Program
14. Where is the funding coming from for the Program and will I need to pay it back?
The County Board of Supervisors approved spending up to $5.8 million as part of the County’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Initiative. Eligible businesses do not need to repay the credit for specific fees that they receive on their invoice.
15. Do I have to pay my EHS permit fees in future years after receiving the permit fee credit?
Yes. This Program is only applicable for the current year. After the credit is used on your account, you must still pay any outstanding fees, including State surcharges, additional outstanding charges, and annual fees thereafter.
16. I believe I am eligible for the Program but I don’t see the credit on my invoice. How can I get the fee credit?
Please complete the Fee Relief Program and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
17. I started my new small business after July 1, 2021. I meet the eligible business criteria. Can I get the fee credit for my first year of permit fees?
No. The Program applies only to businesses that were in operation as of July 1, 2021.
18. When does the Program end?
This one-time fee credit will be applied to renewal invoices mailed out between July 1, 2021 and June 1, 2022. If you think you qualify for and did not receive a fee credit on your annual invoice, please complete the Fee Relief Program and email it to email@example.com.
19. I received a fee credit, but do not need the relief from fees. What do I do?
The Fee Relief Program’s goal is to provide relief to local businesses whose owners and employees were hardest hit economically by the pandemic. We encourage you to donate unneeded relief dollars to a local charity that helps our community in need.
20. I have read all the frequently asked questions and still have additional questions, who can I contact?
Please send your fee relief-specific questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The frequently asked questions will continuously be updated so please check back for future questions.
Thank you for your continued efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
This page was updated on 9/2/2021