That’s My Dump!

photos/Chris Busby

Emmons Street is one of the shortest streets in Portland, but it’s blighted by one of the biggest dumps in town. Tucked behind Howie’s Pub and Veranda Thai Restaurant in East Deeering, Emmons runs for fewer than 100 feet, right next to Interstate 295, then dead-ends above the Washington Avenue underpass.

There are only two residential buildings on Emmons. The dump is the one on the corner of Jordan Street. It’s a two-unit, numbers 14 and 16. Two towering pine trees were trimmed many years ago to create a natural archway above the front porch, but the last time anyone walked up those steps is anyone’s guess.

A heavily weathered sheet of plywood has been nailed or screwed, sideways, across the doors to both units, which are gloomily festooned with shreds of insulating plastic sheeting. The attached two-car garage fronts a driveway that’s halfway to becoming a field of six-foot-tall weeds. One of the garage doors is missing a bottom panel, providing easy access for animals and/or squatters. (The neighbor who alerted us to this dump has observed possums and raccoons running in and out.) The weedy “lawn” is a minefield of dog shit littered with random trash, including an empty whisky bottle. A green sign affixed to the dirty yellow siding announces the obvious: the property is vacant.

A business owner in the neighborhood, who asked not to be identified by name, said the property has been empty at least nine years. People who want to buy the place have been making inquiries at least as long, but there are no good answers.

City records list the owner as Pamela Fogg. Fogg’s address is on Wall Street in Portland, off Forest Avenue. I rang the bell at Fogg’s residence (which is not dumpy) on multiple occasions during different times of day, but even when there were multiple cars in the driveway, no one answered. A small white dog yapped at me from a window the first time I was there, and on another visit I could hear the dog yap briefly, then quiet down. I suspect someone inside shushed the animal.

The businessperson said Fogg and a twin sister, now in their 50s, inherited the property many years ago. They would occasionally show up to check on the place, but have not been seen there for the past two years. A neighbor would mow the lawn from time to time, but it’s clearly been several years since the last mowing.

City Councilor Cheryl Leeman said she hasn’t received any complaints about the place, but asked city inspectors to check it out after my inquiry.

The business owner is baffled as to why the Fogg sisters apparently continue to pay the property’s tax bill and have not put it up for sale. That makes at least two of us.

— Chris Busby