Walla Walla paints over purple octopus

Walla Walla paints over purple octopus
WALLA WALLA - It’s a story that’s generated talk since it happened -- the sudden painting of a mural that once stood over a Walla Walla Toy Store. The city said it would paint over it -- and before dawn on Thursday - it did. KEPR looked at why this controversial mural may have come at your expense.

Gripping pink tentacles -- large eyes peeking over a giant castle. At 29-feet tall....this toy-shop painting is unmistakable. And illegal -- according to city leaders in Walla Walla.

What once was a wall splashed with color -- now, a red shade. We talked to city officials -- they tell us they chose the earth tones to match the city's landscape.

The early-morning paint job was no doubt completed to limit public outcry.It put a quick end to a nearly three-year fight over city code. Walla Walla called this a sign and said it was too big for downtown. The owner of the Inland Octopus Toy Store argued free speech.

“City code is pretty clear, court rulings have been very clear -- that our sign code is legitimate,” said Walla Walla City Manager Nabiel Shawa.

Store owner Bob Catsiff took his dispute all the way to the U-S Supreme Court -- where the case was rejected for review. Catsiff was out of options. He had until Wednesday to take it down. And Thursday -- it was gone. Painted over by the city.

Citizens told us their response:
"I was just very disappointed to see the color gone.”
"This is not obnoxious, but it doesn't meet code."
"I was really sad -- it was a beautiful part of Walla Walla."
"It was just bright, cheery colors -- it was a fun little mural that caught the eye,” said Walla Walla visitor Ian Shriner.

Ian and his family always stop by the Inland Octopus when they visit Walla Walla. But say this trip was different.

"I thought it was a really beautiful mural -- now it's just kind of a brown wall,” added Shriner.

Castiff now owes for the price of the paint job. $1600 tacked on to the nearly 90,000 he owes in code enforcement fines. Catsiff didn't want to speak on camera but says the city isn't consistent about enforcing its rules. He told me he's still waiting for an answer from Walla Walla -- but some may say he's already got one.

The city couldn't say for sure if crews were paid overtime to paint over the mural -- but said it was "likely." Castiff says he isn't ruling out further litigation.