Every holiday season thousands of tourists descend upon Dyker Heights for the spectacular display of lights. The big crowds have attracted street vendors to the residential neighborhood, a problem City Councilman Justin Brannan says he's aiming to fix.
”This is an unprecedented situation you don’t have anywhere else in the city where you have the circus environment in a completely residential area,” said Brannan.
Brannan introduced legislation to ban street vendors from the area. And the City Council passed it in November, just in time for the season. But the new law didn’t stop the Brooklyn Ice Cream truck, which parks here daily to sell ice cream and hot chocolate.
“I’m not breaking the law. The NYPD comes every day and they inspect my truck, check my permits,” said Eddie Cumart, owner of the Brooklyn Ice Cream Truck.
Owner Eddie Cumart says he’s allowed to do business here because his partners are disabled veterans. And a state law dating back to the late 1800’s allows disabled veteran vendors to be exempt from city laws. He says he works with 11 veterans and his business is thriving.
”They couldn’t beat me so I want to show them I’m here and I will never give up,” said Cumart.
The loophole is not sitting well with some homeowners we spoke with who didn’t want to talk on camera.
”We think it’s a shame that these guys are exploiting veterans to make a quick buck,” said Brannan.
Cumart said at $5 per item, and little competition because the other vendors got pushed out, he could make up to $10,000 in a weekend, profits he said he shares with disabled veterans. And there were plenty of people buying ice cream on a frigid night.
“It’s a little cold for ice cream, no? When you pass by the ice cream truck how can you not get ice cream for a two year old?” one visitor said.
Brannan is calling on City Hall to provide enforcement of the local law and said if no action is taken, he will sue the city.