WALNUT CREEK (CBS SF) — A cap of 15 percent for fees local restaurants pay online third-party ordering and delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic was approved Tuesday night by the Walnut Creek City Council.

The 15 percent cap will apply to restaurant delivery orders using services including DoorDash, Grubhub and UberEats, with a 10 percent cap for meal pickups ordered through those services. It will be in effect until either the pandemic-related emergency is declared over by local health officials, or when restaurants are allowed to serve inside at full capacity.

These delivery service companies have been charging up to 30 percent per order when customers order food through the delivery service’s app or restaurant website, senior planner Jeanine Cavalli told the council Tuesday night.

This cap is expected to have a significant positive impact on Walnut Creek’s 200 local restaurants, very few of which are operated by big chains that can better withstand the higher third-party-delivery fees.

With indoor dining suspended since March, and only last week reopened for 25 percent capacity, restaurants have been more reliant than ever on delivery and takeout orders, which have gone from about 10 percent of their business to more than 70 percent.

These fees have been a significant hit on restaurants’ profitability just as business has been down significantly. That prompted some restaurant owners and business advocacy groups like the group Walnut Creek Downtown to ask the city to cap the delivery fees.

Kathy Hemmenway, Walnut Creek Downtown’s executive director, reiterated to the council Tuesday night that the lower fees will help the city’s renowned yet struggling restaurant community.

Councilwoman Cindy Silva noted that the city doesn’t have the authority to enforce the new cap. City Attorney Steve Mattas said that if one of the services continues to charge higher fees, in particular to multiple restaurants, that those restaurants are free to team up to pursue civil legal
action.

Other Bay Area cities, including Berkeley, San Francisco, South San Francisco, San Leandro and Fremont, have established similar caps.

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