As the coming of true summer draws near, with June 21 marking the 2019 solstice, city dwellers expect a few things: cars blasting loud music with the windows down, buskers out in full force to earn their keep, streets and sidewalks full of bustling life. Perhaps most crucially, citizens await the periodic sounds of an ice cream truck, heralding the impending arrival of delicious (and wildly marked-up) frozen treats.
But in New York City, where street space is precious and zoning laws are no joke, an NYPD crackdown has led to 36 ice cream trucks being towed and taken out of commission. The New York Times reports that the trucks were largely pulled from midtown Manhattan, the result of “$4.5 million in fines for roughly 22,500 unpaid parking and traffic violations.” A dozen more trucks are still being sought by police.
The Times notes that tickets are generally accepted by truck owners as a consequence of doing business in the city, but the city’s civil complaint reveals a more elaborate alleged scheme. It claims owners have employed “corporations created as shell companies to hide assets from city finance officials seeking to collect overdue fines. By constantly changing companies, operators could continue to re-register their trucks while eluding city officials.” If you’re wondering, the names of these shell corporations include “Twirly Twirl Ice Inc.,” “Ice Mania,” and by far our personal favorite, “Ice Boyz.”
As the city continues its battle with what’s apparently a conglomerate of clandestine ice cream men, the story offers another in the endless gauntlet of reminders that city zoning laws weren’t made for the disruption posed by food trucks, and that continuing to do little about them is never a solution to the problem. In the meantime, a dozen ice cream trucks are still out on the lam, trying to find safety in a hostile New York like the Warriors sprinting for Coney Island.