Toy Store Owner to Continue Fight to Save Giant Octopus Sign

<p>Mural Above Inland Octopus Toy Store</p>

Mural Above Inland Octopus Toy Store

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A Walla Walla toy store owner has released a statement saying he will continue fighting to keep a giant octopus mural above his store.

The massive, 650 square foot mural was painted above the Bob Catsiff's Inland Octopus toy store in September 2010.

But according to the city's sign code, it is too large to stay up.

Catsiff has admitted the painting is a sign, but argues the city's sign code is unconstitutional.

He filed an appeal with the Washington State Court of Appeals, but it upheld the city's code.

Catsiff then tried taking the case to the Washington State Supreme Court, but it refused to hear the case.

And last month, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not hear the case as well.

This morning Catsiff released the following letter:

In March of 2010, I approached the city with plans to paint a mural on the front of my toy store. I was told it would not be allowed. The Downtown Foundation then offered to design it for me with the idea that it would then be allowed. I declined this offer and asked what codes would regulate the mural I had proposed. This question remained unanswered for months though I reiterated it regularly. The city was asked specifically if this would be considered a sign; the answer was no. Consequently, I did not apply for a sign permit. At no time were size and height mentioned as being a problem, only that it would not be allowed and I should allow a design committee to dictate the style and content of my mural.

After the city issued a notice of violation of its sign code, I decided to defend the mural with a free speech argument. My belief was that an attack on the code itself would be more effective and was certainly more palatable than attacking the responsible individuals or pointing out the preponderance of sign code violators.

As one of my few remaining options to preserve the mural, I now present the argument that the city is selectively enforcing its sign code. This is actually a very simple argument: the city has never taken enforcement action against any sign code violator though numerous violations have existed for years.

On March 7, my lawyer mailed a letter to the City Attorney stating my position regarding the apparent selective enforcement being applied to the octopus mural. In the letter, we also request the city’s position on the facts we present and our legal analysis of this selective enforcement. As of today, we still await an answer. A copy of the letter is attached.

Though I struggle to weather the mental stress and financial burden this has caused, I shall continue fighting to preserve the mural due to overwhelming community support and my deep belief that I am right.

I sincerely thank all those who support me and I ask you to please keep your words positive. Remember we are all part of the same community. Please refrain from verbal attacks on entire industries, groups or individual businesses. Instead, calmly and repeatedly voice your support to those people who can make a difference. Those people are the City Council, the City Attorney and the City Manager. -- Bob Catsiff, Inland Octopus

The letter sent from Catsiff's attorney to Walla Walla City Attorney Tim Donaldson on March 7th can be viewed by clicking on the related link listed above.