WALLA WALLA -- The octo-fuss continues in Walla Walla. A giant purple octopus painting has racked up nearly $1,000 in fines for a toy store owner. And KEPR learned that owner has hired a lawyer to fight the city's decision.
A father walking by the mural pointed it out to his son, explaining, "They're making them take it down... What do you think of that?"
It's all anyone can talk about in downtown Walla Walla and online. Even a Facebook page titled "Save the Endangered Purple Octopus" was just put up last week and already has 2,400+ fans.
Inland Octopus Toy Store owner Bob Catsiff shared, "To me, that's just an amazing number. I have nothing to do with the Facebook page, it does show how much support there is for this mural."
They say you can't fight city hall, but Catsiff says he has no choice. He's hired a lawyer to fight the fines, amounting to $100 a day for every day that purple octopus stays up.
Catsiff explained, "I kind of look at it as pretty heavy-handed. I'm right so I'll fight it."
Walla Walla's city manager Nabiel Shawa says, "I think it's fair to say this issue has taken on a life of its own."
KEPR found out the city has received 33 emails about the purple octopus, most in favor of keeping it, and a handful of phone calls.
KEPR asked, "Does public outcry play into the city's decision at all?" Shawa answered, "That's not how the judicial system works. He's violated code. He was aware of the requirements."
Catsiff responded, "My belief is that the code is unconstitutionally vague. Over broad."
Catsiff has argued it's not a sign, it's a mural. But the city manager tells KEPR it doesn't matter, and there was no permit application. The fight will now go to a hearing examiner. An outside attorney will decide if the purple octopus will stay, or go. If the shop owner loses that battle, there's always an appeal in superior court.
In the meantime, the purple octopus will watch over Walla Walla, and those who keep talking about it.
Here is the letter from the city to the shop owner, including the original building agreement that was filed.