WALLA WALLA -- The giant purple octopus mural has to go.
That's the upshot of a ruling by a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals regarding the controversy that has divided this community since 2010.
In an opinion filed Thursday, the judges based in Spokane rejected Inland Octopus owner Bob Catsiff's appeal of a local judge's decision allowing the city of Walla Walla to enforce its sign regulations.
Catsiff claims the sign code is unconstitutional. But the higher-court judges disagree, upholding Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht's prior ruling.
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The panel wrote, "We reject Mr. Catsiff's federal and state free speech contentions, deny his attorney fee request, and affirm" (Schacht's) decision.
Thursday's court ruling also concluded "the city's sign size and placement restrictions were reasonable and based on legitimate government interests."
Catsiff's attorney, Michael de Grasse, said in an interview Thursday he hadn't yet read the Court of Appeals ruling.
"But I think the next step will probably be to petition the state Supreme Court to review this decision," de Grasse said.
Such review isn't automatic and if it's denied, "It's a possibility we could go to the U.S. Supreme Court because there are federal issues involved," he added.
City Attorney Tim Donaldson also hadn't seen Thursday's ruling, but said, "The city is pleased with the result. It seems (the judges) reached the same decision as Judge Schacht."
Donaldson added that de Grasse "certainly has the right" to continue the appeals process, but pointed out that four judges already have rejected Catsiff's claims.