Hearing set on bill to ban Dyker Christmas Lights vendors

October 3, 2019 Paula Katinas
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DYKER HEIGHTS — A bill sponsored by Councilmember Justin Brannan to impose an outright  ban on vendors to keep the sidewalk salespeople from setting up shop in Dyker Heights during that neighborhood’s world famous Christmas Lights Display is making its way through the City Council.

The council’s Consumer Affairs Committee, chaired by Councilmember Rafael Espinal Jr., was scheduled to hold a hearing on Brannan’s bill as this paper went to press.

Brannan, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst,  is a member of the committee.

The legislation, which Brannan introduced on Aug 14, seeks to prohibit hot dog stands, ice cream trucks, souvenir sellers and other types of vendors from operating in an area of Dyker Heights located between 10th Avenue and 13th Avenue, from 81st Street to 86th Street.

The ban would be in place from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day, the height of the holiday lights season.

The Dyker Heights Christmas lights display has put the neighborhood on the map. More than 150,000 visitors are expected to descend on the community this year to see it.

Each year, visitors on foot, in cars and on tour buses jam local streets to get a glimpse of dozens of private homes whose owners decorate their front lawns and balconies with thousands of twinkling lights, giant Santas, dancing reindeer, enormous “Nutcracker Suite” figures, snowflakes and glowing angels. Many of the homeowners seek to add to the festive mood by playing pre-recorded Christmas songs on sound systems.

Neighborhood residents for the most part welcome the tourists but are unhappy with the amount of litter they leave behind, according to Brannan, who said he drafted the vendor ban bill after hearing complaints from constituents about their trashy troubles.

The tourists buy hot chocolate, ice cream, candy and hot dogs from sidewalk vendors and then throw the cups, wrappers and napkins on the ground, Brannan said.

“It’s great that Dyker Heights is getting recognized around the world for its lighting displays, but the vendors who set up shop every year are creating a nightmare before Christmas for residents,” Brannan told the Home Reporter.

“No one should have to deal with the noise, litter and pollution caused by these vendors 12 hours a day, every day, for a month. People who live in Dyker Heights deserve a peaceful and pleasant holiday season just like anybody else. I’m excited that my bill to address this chaos is moving ahead to its committee hearing, and I hope it will help restore some sanity for residents,” Brannan said.

Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association, recently told the Home Reporter that the bill would make a big difference. “In my view, vendors are 90 percent of the problem,” she said.

In addition to generating trash, the vendors tie up traffic on the neighborhood streets, according to Vella-Marrone.

Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, has endorsed the legislation.

“The residents are living with vendors in trucks running their engines 12 hours a day. The bill will really address quality-of-life issues around the Christmas lights display,” she said.

As Brannan’s bill moves forward in the City Council, Dyker Heights residents are also looking toward other solutions.

One homeowner, who asked that her name not be used, said she would like to see the Christmas lights display’s hours restricted. “There should be a curfew. It shouldn’t be going on at 11 o’clock at night,” she told the Home Reporter. “I don’t want to sound like Scrooge, but it’s a bit much.”

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