'The fault lies with our society that condones graffii'

SEATTLE -- A Phinney Ridge man is coming under fire for letting his vacant, graffiti-laden storefront become a community eyesore.

Scott Walker bought the building in 1986 with plans to make it a deli espresso, but he never found enough money to build the businesses and it never took off.

Vacant ever since, the storefront has been a vandal's canvas for 27 years.

The manager of Pete's Egg Nest, which moved in across the street 18 years ago, says it's an eyesore.

"When, when, when is it going to be gone?" wondered Kosta Sideris. "And 18 years after... still here."

Walker has seen city-issued clean up notices and complies, sometimes slowly.

"Every time I paint this out, they are back rapidly, painting it bigger," he said.

It's a ritual on this corner.

"You can paint on it," said Greg McGraw of nearby McGraw's Direct 2 U Carpet. "And three days later you'll get a notice saying remove you're graffiti or you get a fine. And you'll go, 'I did' and then you walk around and there's new graffiti. No, it's terrible."

But now Walker feels he's being unfairly targeted, not just by vandals, but by complaining neighbors and city that could fine him $150 a day, each day he doesn't keep up with the vandals. He says it's not his fault that he has the graffiti.

"No that's just it, the fault lies with our society that condones graffiti," Walker said.

He'd sell, but believes the lot restrictions aren't attractive to a developer.

"I've never been approached by a serious buyer," Walker said.

But across the street, McGraw was interested to hear that Walker would be open to selling.

"I've been wanting to buy that for years," McGraw said.

Seeing an opportunity, we introduced two neighbors that should have met years ago, with the hope the eyesore will be a metaphor of painting new life into a building by eliminating an old canvas.

Walker is expected to attend a civil hearing Wednesday regarding his failure to clean up graffiti in a timely fashion.