Walla Walla city attorney: Octopus can stay through appeal process

Tim Donaldson says the city won't force removal of the mural, though fines will accrue, as the case continues.

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U-B file photo: Customers step out of Inland Octopus beneath the store's mutil-story artwork and on to Main Street in Walla Walla Thursday morning. After a legal battle toy store owner Bob Catsiff has lost his battle, challenging the constitutionality of the City of Walla Walla's sign code.

WALLA WALLA -- Although Inland Octopus owner Bob Catsiff lost his lawsuit against the city of Walla Walla on Thursday, his giant purple octopus can stay in place for the time being.

City Attorney Tim Donaldson said the mural on the toy store at 7 E. Main St. can remain until court appeals are exhausted.

Catsiff's attorney, Michael de Grasse, said Catsiff intends to appeal Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht's dismissal of Catsiff's claims that the city sign code is unconstitutional.

The appeals process could take years. Meanwhile, the $100-a-day fines against Catsiff that began Oct. 14 will continue accruing as long as the mural remains. He will have to pay if the city ultimately wins in a higher court, Donaldson said.

Catsiff currently owes about $19,000.

The mural was painted on the storefront last Labor Day weekend. Catsiff didn't have a permit and the city ultimately ordered him to remove the painting or otherwise bring it into compliance with the sign code because its large size violates restrictions for wall signs in the downtown area.

Catsiff appealed to Schacht, claiming the sign code infringes upon his right of free speech, is overbroad and vague.

Schacht denied and dismissed those claims in a written ruling released Thursday.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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