Alameda County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously passed a temporary ordinance that caps the fees charged to restaurants by food-delivery services such as Uber Eats and Grubhub.

The ordinance is effective immediately, covers unincorporated Alameda County and caps the fees at 15 percent of each order’s price. Other jurisdictions in the county such as Berkeley and Oakland have similar ordinances.

The new law is meant to help county restaurants stay afloat during the pandemic. It will be lifted when the local health emergency is over or when the supervisors modify or rescind it.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who recommended the ordinance, wrote in a letter to the board that food-delivery services have increased their fees by an average of 12.4 percent since the pandemic began.

Research by his office showed that among 10 businesses in Castro Valley and San Lorenzo that restaurants are being charged fees of 15 to 25 percent per order by food-delivery businesses.

Indoor dining is still off-limits in Alameda County, according to the Alameda County Health Department. The county on Tuesday moved from the purple tier to the red tier in the state’s blueprint for reopening, but county officials are not changing anything yet.

Officials said they are using the next two weeks to be sure it’s safe to permit more activities. They said they will then release a phased plan for reopening.

That has people calling Haggerty’s office, wondering why some other counties are allowing indoor dining – since it’s allowed under the state’s red tier guidelines – while Alameda County isn’t.

Uber and Grubhub are opposed to the cap on fees.

“Regulating the commissions that fund our marketplace forces us to radically alter the way we do business and ultimately hurt those that we’re trying to help the most: customers, small businesses and delivery people,” a spokesperson for Uber said.

A Grubhub spokesperson said, “Fee caps are counterproductive during a time when restaurants need more support, visibility and order volume than ever.

“Particularly problematic is that the ordinance would prevent us from making changes to the other parts of our marketplace to cover our real, substantial marketing and delivery costs.

“This risks making it impossible for us to keep up the quality of service that restaurants and diners have come to expect, hurting them when our help is needed the most.”

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.