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Alcohol Sales Permit Fee Instructions

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In mid December of each year, the City of Santa Cruz will mail an annual billing statement (invoice) to each retail seller of alcohol in the City.  The invoice will detail the amount of the annual Alcohol Sales Permit Fee.  Payment is due January 31st. 

On November 24, 1998, the Santa Cruz City Council established an Alcohol Sales Permit Fee to recover the cost of the Police Department's Alcohol Education, Monitoring and Compliance Program.  Initially, the fee was intended to fund the cost of one police officer and one records technician assigned to the Program.  Historically, the City has not collected the full amount authorized.  On July 28, 2009, the Santa Cruz City Council revised the Alcohol Sales Permit Fee to recover only the cost of one police officer; however, the full costs associated with this officer would be collected.

The Alcohol Sales Permit Fee is based on the following three components:

  1. The risk component is determined by definition under the local alcohol ordinance.  Businesses are classified as either low or high risk.
  2. The hours component is determined by the latest hour in which a business sold alcohol on any day in the previous year.
  3. The volume component refers to the dollar volume of an outlet's wholesale alcohol purchases for the previous calendar year.  In the case of a partial year for new businesses, the volume will be based on annualized purchases.

The individual outlet's fee will be calculated based on classification into various categories within the risk, hours, and volume components.  The hours and volume components are divided into 3 categories as described in the table below.

Category Hours Component Volume Component - Purchases
Low No later than 10:00 p.m. Zero to $100,000
Medium No later than midnight. $100,001 to $300,000
High No later than 2:00 a.m. Over $300,000

The exact amount of each outlet's fee will vary from year to year because fees are set by a risk-based formula to recover costs, so that as the City's cost of running the program changes and as the mix of low risk to high risk businesses changes, the amounts of the permit fees change as well.  The City assigns each business a category for hours and volume based on reported information.


Questions regarding the fee or the Alcohol Education, Monitoring and Compliance Program, should be directed to the Revenue division at 831-420-5070 or email

Payment of Alcohol Sales Permit Fee is due by January 31st.  Penalties and interest are charged for late payment.  If payment is made in February, a 10% penalty is assessed.  If payment is made after February, a second 10% penalty is also charged.  In addition to penalties, interest on late payments is charged at the rate of one and one-half percent per month, or fraction thereof.