Gawk shock! Locals outraged city gave parking spaces to ‘Dyker Lights’ tour buses

Fed up: Dyker Heights residents are outraged that tour buses flocking to the area for its annual Christmas lights displays are taking over coveted parking spots on 86th Street between 11th and 14th avenues.
Community News Group / Caroline Spivack

A shadow hangs over Dyker Lights.

The city must return several blocks worth of parking spaces that it has reserved for tour buses shuttling gawkers to and from the nabe’s famous holiday light show, outraged locals are demanding.

Officials plastered 86th Street between Seventh and 14th avenues with posters warning locals that drivers cannot park on the thoroughfare from 3 pm to midnight, Nov. 28–Jan. 3. Community Board 10 requested the designation to curb massive congestion the buses cause during the holiday season, but livid locals say residents shouldn’t have to accommodate out-of-towners’ tour buses.

“They’re stealing our spots. Parking is a nightmare here to begin with, and now they’re telling us we can’t use four blocks for a month? It’s ridiculous,” said Vito Santori, who lives on 86th Street and frequently parks his car in the stretch now temporarily reserved for buses. “This just seems like a way to help out the tour bus companies not the locals.”

Thousands flock to the nabe every year for an extravagant light display known as “Dyker Lights” — where homeowners deck out their houses in over-the-top Christmas decorations. But as the light show’s popularity has grown, so have complaints to Community Board 10 about sluggish traffic, road rage, and tour buses blocking streets, according the Community Board 10 district manager Josphine Beckmann. So the board requested the 68th Precinct reserve spots as a safety precaution to keep the buses from double parking and blocking traffic, said Beckmann.

“It’s a way to mitigate traffic, but it’s also a safety precaution, because we have to keep the roads clear for emergency services,” she said. “The buses aren’t going anywhere, so we need a strategy to ensure vehicular and pedestrian safety.”

This isn’t the first year the no-parking posters have gone up — police posted the signs on the same stretch of 86th Street last November to little fanfare. The outrage this time around is puzzling, said one resident.

“It’s really not that big of a deal. I don’t understand what the difference is this year,” said Joseph Marzano, another 86th Street resident. “Parking is a pain but it’s not the end of the world. Just park somewhere else.”

Still, some feel designating the more-than 3,300-foot-long chunk of road — which can fit roughly 75 tour buses bumper to bumper — is an overreaction.

“Even if only two blocks were reserved I don’t think there would be enough buses to fill the street,” said 86th Street resident Frank Monferrato. “And why start at 3 pm when it’s still light outside? No one comes to see the lights until it’s dark. A medium needs to be reached that accommodates everyone.”

Community Board 10 is looking into adjusting the hours of the parking restriction, according to Beckmann.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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