Fixed Food Facilities Plan Review & Change of Ownership

Fixed Food Facilities Plan Review and Change of Ownership

Congratulations on starting a new food operation! A food facility evaluation (if only changing ownership of an existing food business and continueing the same menu) or a plan review is required before you are eligible for an operational Food Facility Health Permit. Both these processes are a review of structural and equipment installations to ensure they are compliant with California Retail Food Code. A properly designed food establishment promotes good food safety and sanitation practices. This is accomplished by encouraging good hand washing habits with properly installed handwash stations; reducing the opportunity for cross-contamination of food, equipment, and utensils via properly installed equipment that is designed and approved for food service; ensuring effective temperature controls for potentially hazardous foods during holding, storage, cooking, and cooling operations; preventing vermin entry and harborage; and providing for ease of maintenance and cleaning. Below is a description of each process.

Facility Evaluation for a Change of Ownership

Operating permits for fixed food facilities are not transferable. Before a new operating permit can be issued for an existing food facility that has undergone a change of ownership, a facility evaluation needs to occur. The purpose of the facility evaluation is to determine if the food facility meets the current California Retail Food Code requirements. If the food facility meets current code, EH will accept an application for an operating permit after the food facility evaluation. If the food facility does not meet current code, EH will require minor improvements or direct the applicant to undergo plan review for more involved repairs or modifications.

Plan Review

In the following circumstances, plan review is required:  

  • When building a new retail food facility
  • Whan the facility has never had a health permit from Santa Cruz County Environmental Health 
  • When remodeling an existing food facility
  • When replacing or installing a hood
  • When adding, changing, and replacing food service equipment
  • When changing or adding service areas (e.g. bar, buffet, or food preparation area)
  • You are purchasing an existing food facility and the outcome of the facility evaluation determined the plan review process was needed

The plan review process can take some time and involve other agencies including, but not limited to the local planning, building, fire, public works, and other Environmental Health Programs. Facilities on wells and on septic systems are under review by the Water and Land Use programs in Environmental Health. You must contact these programs directly regarding any Water or Land Use requirements.

In most cases, the Building Department will require verification of Consumer Protection Program plan approval before issuing a Building Permit. However, they will not forward plans or make payments on your behalf. A separate plan review submittal is required with the Consumer Protection Program.

All plan review documents can be e-mailed using a file transfer service (e.g. Drop Box, Adobe File, and Google Drive) to:

An invoice for on-line payment will be generated upon receipt of all required paperwork. The plans are added to the list for review once payment is received. Plans are reviewed on a first come first serve basis.