City paints over Walla Walla store's octopus sign

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WALLA WALLA -- The city of Walla Walla sent a paint crew at dawn Thursday to paint over a purple octopus mural it said was an illegal sign for a toy store.

After more than two years of court battles the octopus was covered in a reddish color that matched the bricks on other Main Street storefronts.

The city had warned Inland Octopus toy store owner Bob Catsiff it would cover the mural and send him the bill.

Catsiff has lost every court decision in the sign code dispute that started in September 2010 and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Catsiff also faces fines that total about $89,000.

"We do enforce our sign code," City Manager Nabiel Shawa said.

City Attorney Tim Donaldson said examples of other signs not in compliance provided by Catsiff were permitted, grandfathered or had been otherwise approved.

Collection of the fines will be handled through the city's finance department, he said.

Some local residents and visitors liked the mural.

"We understand it's an emotional issue with a core group of citizens," said Shawa, adding that the development of the sign code was publicly inclusive with business and resident involvement.