City Council pulls the plug on Dyker Heights lights food vendors
The streets of Dyker Heights are expected to be jammed with tourists this holiday season for the popular Christmas Lights Display, but if those visitors suddenly get hungry while they’re looking at the decorations, they’ll be out of luck.
The City Council voted Thursday to ban food vendors and other sidewalk salespeople from a large section of Dyker Heights from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Eve Day, the height of the Christmas lights display season.
The idea behind the ban is to give a sense of relief to Dyker Heights residents who put up with traffic jams, noise and lots of litter during the holiday season, according to Councilmember Justin Brannan, the bill’s sponsor.
“We hope this bill will allow tourists and residents alike to enjoy the holiday season,” said Brannan, a Democrat representing Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge and parts of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.
The council’s Consumer Affairs Committee, chaired by Councilmember Rafael Espinal Jr., approved the vendor ban bill on Wednesday, the day before the full council took up the measure.
The legislation, which Brannan introduced back on Aug. 14, prohibits hot dog stands, ice cream trucks, souvenir sellers and other types of vendors from operating in the area of Dyker Heights located between 10th Avenue and 13th Avenue, from 81st Street to 86th Street.
“It really restricts vendors from the prime viewing area for the Dyker Heights Christmas lights,” said Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, who endorsed the bill.
Beckmann and Board 10 Chairperson Lori Willis testified in favor of the bill at a committee hearing earlier this month.
“Dyker Heights Lights started out as a local neighborhood tradition and has turned into an attraction that tourists from all over the world come to visit. While homeowners are proud of this tradition, issues like overflowing garbage cans, litter all over the streets and exhaust fumes from an ice cream truck idling outside their house for 12 hours a day are just not acceptable,” said Brannan, who is a member of the Consumer Affairs Committee.
Beckmann predicted that the bill will bring some peace of mind to Dyker Heights residents.
“It’s a very unique situation,” she said.
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. The holiday show has become a must-see event.
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.
But the traffic jams, noise and trash are a big problem, fed-up residents told Brannan and other officials.
Tourists buy food and beverages from vendors and then toss the food wrappings, cans and bottles on the ground, said Brannan.
Not only that, but the vendors leave their food trucks idling for hours on end, forcing residents to live with exhaust fumes and noisy generators, Brannan added.
CB10 and the Dyker Heights Civic Association have been sounding the alarm over the Christmas lights displays excesses for the past several years and have asked the NYPD to assign additional traffic cops to the area, among other measures.
Beckmann said the community board’s support for Brannan’s bill “is based on an outpouring of concern from local residents.”
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