Additional Permit Considerations for Restaurants

Non-Residential Wastewater Discharge Food Service Permit

(For Restaurants)

As mandated within the Fat, Oil and Grease Program (FOG) all restaurants, fast food establishments, caterers, bakeries, donut shops, halls and auditoriums with kitchens, and any other businesses that do commercial cooking or food preparation are required to be permitted with a Non-Residential Food Service Discharge Permit. Many, if not most, food service establishments cooking food/meats will be required to install a grease removal device.

Estimated Cost:  No charge.

Turnaround:  Usually one day if all elements are fulfilled.

City of Santa Rosa Utilities Department
Environmental Compliance Section
4300 Llano Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
Phone: 707-543-3369

Alarm Permit

If your business will have a burglary or robbery alarm, then you will need an Alarm Permit.

Estimated Cost:  $15 annually (As of December 2010)

Santa Rosa Police Department
Technical Services Division
965 Sonoma Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Phone; 707-543-3616

Encroachment Permit

If you will have a sidewalk cafe, you may need to obtain an Encroachment Permit from the Planning and Economic Development Department.

Estimated Cost:  Permit costs vary per the number of inspections needed to complete a project.

  • $80 - Permit Fee
  • 5% of public improvement construction cost for plan checking
  • 7% of public improvement construction cost for inspection services

Note: Applicants with Planning and Economic Development approved improvement plans pay only the $80 permit fee. Plan check and inspection fees for these projects are collected during the plan approval process.

(As of June 2016, for current info see Fee Schedule (PDF) or contact the department.)

Turnaround:  Depending on the scope of the project, one to three weeks is the time frame for issuance of Encroachment Permits during the construction season when the City receives a high volume of applications.

Planning and Economic Development Department
100 Santa Rosa Avenue
Room 5
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Phone: 707-543-4611

Hazardous Materials/Waste Program

If handling any hazardous materials, generating or treating hazardous waste, storing in above ground or underground storage tanks, or are subject to business plan and/or accidental release program, then you must join the Hazardous Materials/Waste Program.

Estimated Cost: Information about fees such as those for storage of hazardous or combustible materials and annual fire permits can be obtained by calling the Fire Department at 543-3500.

City of Santa Rosa Fire Department
Hazardous Materials Program CUPA
955 Sonoma Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Phone: 707-543-4108

Water/Sewer Demand Fees

Utilities fees include water and wastewater demand fees and inspection fees to pay for the cost of these services. These fees are basic utilities fees. Other fees, such as special area assessments or reimbursement fees may also be applicable. All fees are paid prior to issuance of a building permit.

Water and wastewater demand fees are charged for connection to the water system and sewer system. Non-residential (and irrigation) fees are determined by Water Department staff and based on maximum monthly usage. If the type of non- residential use changes, additional demand fees may be due.  Water/Sewer Demand Fee information

Estimated Cost:  Varies. See the Fee Schedule (PDF) or contact department.

Demand Fees:  If the location you've chosen hasn't been used as a restaurant in the past, there may be a demand fee to connect to the City's potable water and sewer system. Be sure to make this determination early in the process and include any potential costs in your business planning.

City of Santa Rosa Water Department
Engineering Division
69 Stony Circle
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
707-543-3950 or 707-543-4200


Credits toward demand fees may be available based upon prior use. It shall be the responsibility of the owner or applicant to provide proof of prior uses. The Water Department keeps a "master file" of applicable credits. However, discussion of these credits is not allowed without the property owner's permission. The property owner also decides whether or not available credits can be used by a tenant/applicant.

Restaurants employing Best Available Technology (BAT) - the most efficient hardware, fixtures, and systems - achieve a lower maximum monthly usage (resulting in lower demand fees).

Food Facility Operating Permit

AKA Health Permit for Serving/Selling Food

Any type of retail food sales requires a permit from the County's Department of Environmental Health. For new facilities, you will need to submit building plans to both the City's Planning and Economic Development Department and the County's Department of Environmental Health. For more information, call 707-565-6531.

Estimated Cost:  Varies according to food facility type. Most restaurants handling food would fall into either the Moderate or High Risk categories ($1,002 - $1,123 annually). Plan check fees may also apply.  (As of December 2010 - for current info see Fee Schedule (PDF) or contact the department.)

Turnaround:  Varies. In a situation with no construction/renovation, a permit may be issued in 7 days or less. However, depending on individual circumstances, the process could also take weeks to months. In cases with construction/renovation, health inspectors have up to 20 business days to review building plans.

Comments:  A "New Construction/Major Remodel" Plan Check runs approximately $556. A Site Review can also be carried out ($281) in order to lay the groundwork for a smooth permitting process. (As of December 2010 - for current info see Fee Schedule (PDF) or contact the department.)

Review by the Health Department should be carefully integrated with the building permit/plan check process. Sometimes, plans are even submitted to the Health Department as a first step in this process. (Please note that while their processes may follow parallel tracks at times, a building permit and a health permit are separate permits.)

County of Sonoma Department of Health Services
Public Health Division
Environmental Health and Safety Section
625 5th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Phone: 707-565-6565

Alcohol License

If your business will be selling alcoholic beverages, then you will need an Alcoholic Beverage License.

Estimated Cost:  Varies depending upon license type. Two typical varieties for restaurants are "On-Sale Beer and Wine Eating Place" (original fee is $300) and "On-Sale General Eating Place" (original fee is $12,000). (As of December 2010 - for current information see Fee Schedule on the ABC licensing page.)

Turnaround:  Apply for the license in person and allow a minimum of 45 to 50 days to process the application. The law precludes issuance in less than 30 days. The license can average about 75 days for a Person-to-Person transfer, and 90 days for an Original. Circumstances often result in a longer waiting period; therefore, before final approval and issuance of a license, caution should be used regarding extensive financial commitments, plans for grand openings, etc.

Note: If new construction or considerable remodeling is necessary, prior approval under Section 24044 should be sought before beginning any actual work. Only a limited number of permits may be available for a given county.

Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)
Santa Rosa District Office
50 D Street, Room 130
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Phone: 707-576-2165

Alcohol Sales Permit Fee

For businesses that sell sell alcohol

The City of Santa Rosa imposes on each ABC Licensee an Alcohol Sales Permit Fee for each licensed premises in the City of Santa Rosa where the ABC Licensee sells alcohol. The fee is payable annually and is due no later than April 1st of each year. The amount of the fee shall be based upon the reported annual wholesale alcohol purchases for the previous calendar year. This fee will be for the purpose of partially funding alcohol regulation, enforcement, and education programs designed to mitigate the adverse effects of alcohol use in the City of Santa Rosa.


City of Santa Rosa Finance Department
Revenue Division
City Hall Annex, 1st Floor
90 Santa Rosa Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Phone: 707-543-3170

For questions related to this fee, please contact:
Santa Rosa Police Department
Phone: 707-543-3550


Estimated Cost

Annual Wholesale Alcohol Purchases

Annual Fee

$100 - $33,333
$33,334 - $1,666,666
3/10 of 1% (or 0.3%) of purchases
$1,666,667 and greater

(As of June 2016.)

Alcohol Beverage Tax

Certain restaurants such as brewpubs will need to pay the alcoholic beverage tax, which is a state per-gallon excise tax.

Possible Special Occupational Tax Stamp

Before opening an alcoholic beverage business, an ABC applicant should contact the nearest office of the United States Treasury Department, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. If a Federal basic permit or a special Occupational Tax Stamp is required, it should be applied for by and issued to the same persons applying for an ABC license and at the same address.

Music License

If your business plays copyrighted music without a license (whether you have live music, "music-on-hold" for your phone or play copyrighted CDs in your restaurant), you may be subject to a significant fine. Fees for these licenses are collected by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Broadcast Music, Inc. and SESAC Inc.

Note: If your restaurant will be featuring entertainment on an ongoing basis, you may need to obtain a Minor Use Permit. Check with the Planning & Economic Development Department.

Downtown Street Vendor Permit

Are you interested in operating a vendor cart downtown? Small carts are allowed with a permit in Courthouse Square, Fremont Park, JeJu Way, and Comstock Mall. Carts must be stationary during operating hours in the area specified on the permit, and removed each evening. Vendors are allowed to sell food, non-alcoholic beverages, cut flowers, and/or art or crafts made by the vendor.


To assist you in finding the appropriate permitting information for your business, the CalGold database provides links and contact information that direct you to agencies that administer and issue business permits, licenses and registration requirements from all levels of government. Much of the information is specific to the type of business and its location in California.