SEQUIM - A big garage north of Sequim is purple but neighbors are seeing red. As in red ink.

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SEQUIM — The big garage with an apartment on top is bright purple, but neighbors are seeing red.

About two dozen Dungeness-area residents have signed a petition seeking property tax relief from Clallam County because of the building, which towers over nearby low-profile, neutral-colored houses in the Dungeness area of the north Olympic Peninsula.

County Assessor Pamela Rushton told the Peninsula Daily News of Port Angeles that it’s the first tax relief request she has seen based on bright colors.

Even if property values are down, Rushton said, it will be hard to determine whether the garage or the recession is to blame — and to be considered for relief, each taxpayer must file an individual request.

The owners of the garage, Cindy Zechenelly, of San Jose, Calif., and her husband, Blaine, say they plan to build a house on the property and move there in 2011 or so.

She said the choice of lavender paint for the four-car garage and violet for the apartment on top, both applied in December, was inspired mainly by Victorian houses in San Francisco, but also to reflect Sequim’s claim to be the lavender-growing capital of North America.

“I call it the purple people-eater,” said Brianna Juel, a neighbor who circulated the petition.

Andi Taylor, who lives next door and finds the white interior of her home bathed with a purple glow, calls it Barney, after the purple dinosaur on public television.

“We had them (the Zechenellys) over for dinner last June,” Taylor said. “They said they were going to build a country Victorian, so we knew it was going to be big.”

Mostly it’s the color, though, that has made it “the focal point of the community,” said Brian Juel, Brianna’s father, who has lived in the area for 16 years.

The garage “has polluted our views, taking our eyes off the true natural beauty” of the landscape and nearby Strait of Juan de Fuca, he wrote in the petition.

“I know people have every right to build whatever they want,” Juel told the newspaper, “but it affects others.”

He added that he plans to plant a weeping willow tree between his home and the new building “to somehow mask that house out of my view.”

If the Zechenellys move to the neighborhood as planned, “it’s going be a very tense situation for them,” Taylor said. “Cindy has said she doesn’t want this to affect our friendship … she knows I don’t like it.”

Taylor said the flap had one positive effect, getting the neighbors to meet each other.

“If everyone on this street painted their houses to match,” she joked, “we could charge admission.”