Louie Galarza, the owner of Louie G’s Pizzeria in Fife, had to be breathing easier after the Fife City Council meeting Tuesday night.
In front of a passionate crowd of his supporters, council members unanimously approved changes to the city’s zoning code that will keep money in Galarza’s pocket. He won’t have to pay for a permit to keep hosting musical acts.
That’s good news for Galarza’s friends and family, who say they consider Louie G’s a second home and were concerned the place would go silent.
Puyallup resident Steve Unger, a bassist in the heavy metal band Metal Church, said he doesn’t think twice about sending his kids to spend late nights hanging out at the restaurant.
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“Without outlets like that, the kids are going to be out doing something else,” Unger said during Tuesday’s public hearing.
Unger and others were afraid of the financial toll that a conditional-use permit would take on Galarza’s business. The City Council’s vote axed the requirement that would have forced Galarza to pay a one-time, partially refundable $5,000 fee. ( The News Tribune published an article on Galarza’s concerns in July.)
The city’s employees earlier this year discovered the permit requirement and notified Galarza. Community Development Director David Osaki said city code required restaurants with dancing, a live stage or “similar entertainment activities,” such as Louie G’s, to apply for the additional permit. That process was subject to public notice, a public hearing and review by a hearing examiner, as well as the fee.
Galarza feared that he couldn’t come up with the $5,000..
Now he doesn’t have to worry. Tuesday’s vote simplified the city code, eliminating any reference to conditional-use permits for restaurants in the city.
The vote followed impassioned testimony from a standing-room-only crowd of Louie G’s supporters.
“We’re not against you,” Councilman Pat Hulcey said during the public hearing, in response to some heated remarks. “We’re just trying to get through the process to make this work.”
After the City Council took action, the crowd erupted with cheers and applause. They chanted, “Louie! Louie! Louie!” before filing out of the council chambers.
Hulcey thanked the audience for their participation, adding that council meetings are “usually us and crickets.”
“All of us on this council have backed Louie,” Hulcey said. “We really appreciate what he does.”