News release: Walla Walla toy store owner plans to continue mural fight


The following news release was received by the Union-Bulletin from Inland Octopus this morning. Watch and the Union-Bulletin's print edition for further coverage. An image of letter referenced in the release was attached to the emailed release. That image accompanies this story.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

For immediate release:

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.



lavoz says...

Cities sometime choose enforce codes only when they feel they need to, if they are going to enforce your mirror they need to enforce all signs in Walla Walla, I can show you more than a dozen signs in Walla Walla That are out of code, they can not chose whom they want to pick on. What they need to do is take the code off the books or enforce everyone. You have my support!

Posted 26 March 2013, 11:11 a.m. Suggest removal

RLBROOKS says...

The octopus sign looks fine and adds to a pleasant downtown experience. The city council should make this issue go away and leave that sign alone.

Posted 26 March 2013, 12:28 p.m. Suggest removal

zerocat says...

Shows these idiots that run walla walla seem to pick on certian people and not there elite buddies. I support that toy store. My 5 year old loves that mural everytime we drive by it. Sounds like some of these crooks need to be voted out.

Didn't the city manager get a pay hike also. Shows you the corruption walla walla has, also just like the scandal sherriff office had. There all elites that they know money buys power.

Posted 26 March 2013, 1:58 p.m. Suggest removal

PeggyJoy says...

What! I could care less, that your five year old loves the mural or not. It ruins the downtown. You want a "collection of carnival frontage" buildings downtown, then take it out East.

How would you like to wake up some morning and find the tacky mural looking at you from across the street. I'm sure it would improve the value of your home.

Posted 28 March 2013, 4:31 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Nice 'Tude..........

Posted 28 March 2013, 10:23 p.m. Suggest removal

carcrazy says...

Peggy "No" Joy....such negativity!

Posted 30 March 2013, 3:36 p.m. Suggest removal

tkmcgowen says...

Peggy, "one" does not make for a "collection". From what I've seen when visiting the downtown area (ESPECIALLY on the weekends) is that it is the collection of rude, self-absorbed, loud, intoxicated wine-tasting tourists hopping from tasting room to tasting room that ruins the downtown for me and my family.... not a mural mostly hidden by a tree lined street.

Posted 2 April 2013, 1:21 p.m. Suggest removal

wallanative1966 says...

I love it! I think the city should just stop all this nonsense. They have way bigger problems than a mural, they need to take care of the riff-raff on the City Council.

Posted 26 March 2013, 3:33 p.m. Suggest removal

PeggyJoy says...

You love it! What is wrong with you and others, that want to make downtown Walla Walla an eye sore. All these beautiful historical buildings and you want them covered in cheap looking murals!

Posted 28 March 2013, 4:39 p.m. Suggest removal

RuralBoy says...

You should buy them or rent them so you can do what you want with them.

Posted 29 March 2013, 6:12 p.m. Suggest removal

ImJustSayin says...

Or..... the sign looks like crap and should have been painted over a long time ago!

Posted 26 March 2013, 4:57 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

It's going to come sometime..... you will lose! The city has way too much to lose on this fight! They will change the rules to win.... It has become obvious the Council will cheat others to get what the wine stores want.... So... Let's get it over with.... Stop wasting your time and OUR money!

Posted 26 March 2013, 9:03 p.m. Suggest removal

bluedevilcfmy says...

if you don't want your money spent poorly, move. WW will never learn

Posted 27 March 2013, 7:53 p.m. Suggest removal

Myinput says...


Posted 28 March 2013, 11:16 a.m. Suggest removal

PeggyJoy says...

I agree with you 110%.

Posted 28 March 2013, 4:40 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

I totally agree - quit the lawsuits because its cutting into raises that the council will be giving in the future!

Posted 27 March 2013, 6:17 a.m. Suggest removal

Hersey says...

Maybe the city should do like the owner did - go in in the middle of the night on a weekend and paint over the sign.

Posted 27 March 2013, 4:08 p.m. Suggest removal

Myinput says...

Totally agree!

Posted 27 March 2013, 7:42 p.m. Suggest removal

Myinput says...

He broke the rules. Plain and simple. He is thumbing his nose at the rule. What type of example is this setting for our kids - ignore the rules, they don't matter - just do what you want.


I for one will not shop there anymore. And if he opens a new shop, our family will not support it either. He's lost our support.

Posted 27 March 2013, 7:42 p.m. Suggest removal

bluedevilcfmy says...

There is something seriously wrong with the people siding with the city. Do you know how to read or just rant? This was fine until ONE business dowtown took issue with it.
Money talks in this town.
The mural was painted in broad daylight.
When Christian Supply was downtown, if they painted a giant bible do you think THAT would have been an issue?
I hope when this is all done he packs up and moves out of WW- spends his property tax dollars in College Place.

Posted 27 March 2013, 7:51 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

I agree bluedevil - I was being facetious - I have found that the cronyism of this city is destroying it as a whole and citizens leaving as a resort to actually live a peaceful life. When the housing market gets a little growth I will be exploring other areas myself.

Posted 28 March 2013, 6:17 a.m. Suggest removal

PeggyJoy says...

Do you really believe College Place would like their town to look like a "carnival store front?"

Posted 28 March 2013, 4:43 p.m. Suggest removal

sreavis says...

yes I do and as far as I am concerned that murial was the only family friendly thing downtown it gave joy to many children and adults but heaven forbid we have anything like that on wine tasting row people might get the idea we had a kid friendly town.

Posted 28 March 2013, 9:21 p.m. Suggest removal

wwguy7 says...

The "new" painting is brutal looking. Shame on the city.

Posted 28 March 2013, 9:36 a.m. Suggest removal

wwnative23 says...

The demise of anything on main that calls to the spirit of the child on Main.....but be sure to keep the wine flowing.

Posted 28 March 2013, 10:16 a.m. Suggest removal

Myinput says...

Yep, looks terrible - but he broke the rules - plain and simple. And quite honestly, it's time to move on.

My hope is that the fines which he's incurreced will be used for something good.

Posted 28 March 2013, 11:15 a.m. Suggest removal

jeffstrickler says...

Do you not understand that if he has to actually pay the fine that the store will go out of business? Any small business owner in this town should be appalled by this, because if they will got after a *toy store* for their mural, they will surely come after you as well. Anybody that wants Walla Walla to maintain its "friendly" image, if for the tourists if not reality, should condemn the city for their embarrassment of our community. This kind of cloak-and-dagger, cover-of-darkness approach should not be in keeping with the business of the community. The council and Nabiel Shawa need to be ousted!

Posted 28 March 2013, 11:28 a.m. Suggest removal

sreavis says...

I agree completly Walla Walla is not a kid friendly town unless you have money shame on the people running this town as far as I am concerned the removal of the sign ruined the downtown it was the only family friendly thing down there,

Posted 28 March 2013, 9:18 p.m. Suggest removal

ImJustSayin says...

What does "kid friendly" and that ugly ass mural have to do with each other? The store is still there. Get a grip

Posted 30 March 2013, 3:06 p.m. Suggest removal

loplover says...

I fully expect that the toy store owner will eventually lose, and then will have to file bankruptcy due to the accrued fines. This is the first I had heard that the city wanted him to have "their design team" design and paint whatever sign they were going to allow. Kinda wonder how they would have gotten the wine bottles into a toy store sign myself... While he did break the rules, it certainly sounds like the city was unwilling to work with him when he asked for their input.

Posted 28 March 2013, 11:45 a.m. Suggest removal

PeggyJoy says...

Just why would you want to paint a HUGE tacky mural among historical buildings of downtown Walla Walla. It reminds me of a cheap front for a carnival. Show some respect for the downtown area historical buildings. Move your business out East.

Posted 28 March 2013, 4:27 p.m. Suggest removal

Myinput says...

I agree with PeggyJoy - time to be done. No one wants any business to go bankrupt, let's be clear about that. However, maybe Mr. C should have considered a few things BEFORE he decided to break the rules and thumb his nose at the City. We teach our kids to follow the rules - right --- so why type of example is this store owner setting for our kids? hmmm. I see - ignore the rules and do what you want - rules don't matter. Seems as though everyone's angry because the city followed through on enforcing the rules. I applaud the City.

Posted 28 March 2013, 8:37 p.m. Suggest removal

walla2butterfly says...

I am so grateful to our fore fathers who broke the rules and gave us the freedom we enjoy today

Posted 29 March 2013, 9:24 a.m. Suggest removal

ImJustSayin says...

Oh yeah....let's start a revolution over a terrible piece of "art".

Posted 30 March 2013, 3:12 p.m. Suggest removal

dukhuntr says...

I used to spend a considerable amount of money in the the downtown area. Now I would rather drive to the Tri-cities or even College Place. I will never spend another cent in any of those businesses. Especially a business like Falkenberg's that is just across the street. I am sure they had something to do with this but I would think that their clock doesn't fit in since it doesn't match the light posts. Maybe we should remove it in the misddle of the night.

Posted 30 March 2013, 8 a.m. Suggest removal

ImJustSayin says...

See ya!

Posted 30 March 2013, 3:07 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Outside of the Car Lots... CP has the two leading retail sales tax revenue leaders in the County....

Posted 30 March 2013, 5:08 p.m. Suggest removal

kfarrens says...

Name them please.

Posted 30 March 2013, 6:25 p.m. Suggest removal

writewinger says...

Is this a Test? Have you ever heard of Home Depot and Walmart?

Posted 1 April 2013, 6:30 p.m. Suggest removal

kfarrens says...

No test, just wanted to know. yes I have heard of them. Have you heart of JTI and Pape machinery?

Posted 3 April 2013, 7:44 a.m. Suggest removal

GPS says...

My family and I are moving to your town in a few months and I have to tell you that this story made the news through social media where we are (half way across the country in a large city) and everyone who saw it told me how sad it was that we were moving to such an unpleasant place that doesn't seem to appreciate street art or children. Laws and rules must be followed, however, after reading the above comments it sounds more like an HOA run amok than an actual code issue. It certainly isn't good PR or development for your region. My children were looking forward to seeing the Octopus mural. Hopefully we will find a much more welcoming place than it appears online right now.

Posted 2 April 2013, 2:59 p.m. Suggest removal

ImJustSayin says...

After walking around downtown, you'll quickly realize how out of place the mural was. It was too big and the colors were hideous. Trust me, you didn't want your kids having nightmares.

Posted 2 April 2013, 6:06 p.m. Suggest removal

OMGNA says...

How sad that you are moving to "snobbish" WW. Nothing has changed in 70 years. I was born and raised in WW, still have family in the valley. When I was in WW last year during the Balloon Stampede, I saw the mural and fell in love with it. It was in keeping with the store it portrayed. But, for the snobs, I wonder if in one tenacle it had held a wine glass, in another it held a bottle of wine, if that would have made it more acceptable to the "snob tourists". I was not impressed with all the "wine" murals I saw plastered all over the place at the "wine stores". Talk about a bad influence to the young residents. If I were Mr. C, I would give you the bird, close my store, and move to a different location that wants to cater to families with children. Maybe CP, Stateline, M-F, to name a few. I'm sure WW won't miss the revenue they get from him. No wonder everyone goes to the Tri-Cities to shop. I wouldn't dream of starting a business in "snobbish" WW for all the tea in China. And yes, I spent a great deal of time in WW several years ago settling my father's estate. And it was interesting to listen to visitors at the motel I was staying at asking what was so great about WW since there was no shopping to speak of, nothing to do really outside of just passing through or sitting in a wine tasting room, no really good places to dine, etc.

So sorry for the stress Mr. C has been put through. I support his efforts 110%, but I think at this point I would throw in the towel, close my store, and move where I was wanted and appreciated, and that certainly isn't in WW. Then the place could be leased to yet another "wine" shop. Let's make the whole area of downtown WW into "skidrow" to cater to all the winos!

Posted 3 April 2013, 10:23 a.m. Suggest removal

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