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About Ben Kallos

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos was praised by the New York Times for his “fresh ideas” and elected in 2013 to represent the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and East Harlem along with all 8.4 million New Yorkers in the New York City Council.  He grew up on the Upper East Side with his mother, who still lives in the neighborhood, and his grandparents, who fled anti-Semitism in Europe. As Vice-Chair of the Jewish Caucus he has been an ardent advocate for Israel and supporter of Jewish causes.

As Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee where he has sought to root out patronage, de-privatize government, eliminate billions in waste, expand elections, and to use technology to improve access to government.  He has become a leading advocate for education, affordable housing, public health, sustainable development and transportation improvements and safety.  His office is open and transparent, with constituents invited to decide on how to spend one million dollars on local projects in the district as well as to join him in a conversation on the First Friday of each month, or he will go to them if they can gather ten neighbors for “Ben In Your Building.”

Most Recent Newsletter

October News: Free School Lunch, More Pre-K Seats for the UES, Free Helmets and No-Cost Flu Shots

As we welcome the autumn temperatures of October for those of you who celebrate Shannah Tova as I reflect during these days of awe, if I or my team have disappointed you, please let me know so that we may seek your forgiveness as we try to do better in the coming year.

It is deeply sad that October started out with the tragic and horrifically violent events in Las Vegas that took the lives of at least 59 people. I hope that this nation can finally adopt gun control and that this coming year be a blessed one filled with peace, health and joy.

September was a month with many timely hearings surrounding several pieces of legislation my office is trying to turn into law. Whether it is taking on construction noise, making Zero Waste by 2030 a law, banning toxic pesticides in our City’s parks or even supporting students with Gender-Sexuality Alliances in our schools, I have been working to improve our great City. 

Now that flu season is just around the corner I want to invite residents to our October Annual Senior Health Fair on Thursday, October 19 from 11am to 2pm at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House where No-Cost flu shots will be available to residents who RSVP.

If you are interested in the Participatory Budgeting process and being a key part of deciding how the community spends $1 million, now is the time to get involved and submit your ideas.  On Tuesday, October 17 at 6pm join us for a Participatory Budgeting Assembly at my District Office at 244 East 93rd Street RSVP.  If you can’t make it that day make sure to submit your ideas online.

Sincerely,


Ben Kallos

P.S. If you’d like to meet with me this month keep in mind that  First Friday is canceled in observance of Sukkot but you can still meet with me on specific policy ideas during Brain Storming with Ben on Tuesday, October 10, at 6pm RSVP.

SPECIAL EVENTS

October 19, 11am-2pm
Senior Health Fair

October 14, 11am-2:30pm
Free- Helmets and Fitting

October 17, 6pm-7pm
Participatory Budgeting Assembly

October 19, 11am-2pm
Senior Health Fair: FREE Flu Shots

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

October 7, 8am-10am
First Friday

October 5, 12, 19 & 26
3:30pm-6:30pm
Fresh Food Box
(Outside District Office)

October 17, 6pm
Brainstorming With Ben

No First Friday in Observance Due to Religious Observance

EDUCATION

1. Free School Lunches
2. More Pre-Kindergarten Seats for UES
3. Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Opening Ceremony
4. Child Center NY Beacon Celebrates First Day

LEGISLATION HEARD 

5. Free Childcare for Government Meetings
6. P.S 290 Students Lobby to Ban Pesticides in City Parks
7. Gender Sexuality Alliance Legislation Hearing
8. Environmental Committee Hearing on Noise in New York City
9. Hearing on Agencies Not Enforcing Quality of Life Violations
10.Zero Waste Hearing Codifying 1573 into Law

COMMUNITY 

11. East River Greenway Construction on Esplanade Announced
12. $959.00 Trash Cans
13. My Scaffolding Bill Would Help Businesses
14. Labor Day Parade
15. Asphalt Green Gets New Pool Filters
16. Annual Town Hall Recap and Thank You

Updates

Press Coverage
Commercial Observer
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has championed the expansion of affordable housing throughout all five boroughs, but he, as well as the City Planning Commission, opposed the ERFA’s original rezoning proposal, which was backed by several community representatives, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the residents of Sutton Place. New York State Senator Liz Krueger has backed the proposal, and recently, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney signed on in support of the ERFA’s mission, having already written and voiced concerns to the CPC on the organization’s behalf, according to an ERFA spokeswoman.

Read more

Press Coverage
Curbed
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Previously the rezoning wanted to curtail the height of buildings in this area to 260 feet, but after City Planning raised concerns about that rezoning, the Alliance altered its rezoning proposal.

This latest effort has the backing of several local elected officials including City Council member Ben Kallos. In order for Gamma to move forward with its current plan for the tower, it will have to complete construction on the foundation by Thanksgiving. That’s basically impossible, Kalikow told AM New York.

Read more

Press Release
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I am here today to give testimony in support of the community-led grassroots zoning text change application submitted to the Commission by the East River Fifties Alliance in partnership with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Liz Krueger, Council Member Dan Garodnick, and me. ERFA, the community coalition leading this application, consists of 45 buildings, represented by co-op boards, condo boards and individual owners, and over 2600 individual supporters living in more than 500 buildings within and beyond the rezoning area.

Thank you to Commission Chair Marisa Lago, Vice Chair Kenneth J. Knuckles, and the members of the City Planning Commission for hearing us today. Thank you as well to your staff, and in particular to the Department of City Planning’s community affairs and Manhattan Borough offices’ professional and dedicated work in handling this application.

In the Sutton Area, a small residential neighborhood by the East River in Midtown Manhattan, we have come together to envision a community that welcomes new construction while protecting the rent-regulated tenants who have lived in our neighborhood for decades, like our friends Herndon Werth and Charles Fernandez.

We are here to support real housing for real New Yorkers, including affordable housing, instead of 800-foot-high full-story penthouses built to serve as investments, often for foreign speculators.

We envision a residential community in the Sutton Area where new buildings serve the needs of the local community and of the City as a whole, adding to our housing stock for working people and fitting the shape and character of our neighborhood.

We have seen the super-tall buildings at 432 Park and 111 West 57th Street, and we believe they have no role on quiet side streets in fully residential neighborhoods. When I first learned that the super-tall buildings could creep onto our residential side streets, I wanted to do something that had not been done before: to organize the community to propose our own plan to rezone the neighborhood for the present and the future. That is what we did, led by residents from the Sutton Area and co-signed by four elected officials: we filed the first ever community-led rezoning at City Planning, which we are discussing today.

This rezoning corrects an accident of history that has left the Sutton Area the only residential neighborhood in the city with uncapped R10 zoning without any further protections. The proposal seeks to impose tower-on-a-base zoning, which would result in squatter, more human-scale buildings, with a dense base and a shorter tower, adding more units to our housing stock, which will be filled by real New Yorkers. Depending on lot configuration, maximum building heights in tower-on-a-base zoning are estimated between 300 and 500 feet, far closer to the built context of the neighborhood than a super-tall building that would cast a shadow all the way across the East River into Queens.

Read more

Press Coverage
Commercial Observer
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

“The BSA is the most powerful city agency that no one has ever heard of,” said New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents District 5 (the east side of Manhattan from Midtown up to East Harlem). “It literally has the power to change how neighborhoods are planned without going through the regular city planning process.”

Kallos, who sponsored five of the nine bills in the BSA legislative reform package that the City Council passed in May, said his interest in the body goes back more than a decade to his time as a member of Manhattan’s Community Board 8 and concerns that arose as he witnessed his Upper East Side neighborhood “turn from a residential neighborhood into a commercial and hospital district.”

“I watched a parade of applicants come in and build buildings that could never be built under the current neighborhood plan,” he recalled.

Alongside Kallos, who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, the reforms drew bipartisan support from Democratic Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Republican Minority Leader Steven Matteo, as well as Democratic council members Karen Koslowitz and Donovan Richards.

Read more

Press Coverage
Bloomberg Business
Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A fresh proposal, drafted with input from members of the city planning department, is scheduled for public hearing on Oct. 18, paving the way for a possible approval by the city council in November, said Ben Kallos, a councilman who is one of the applicants seeking rezoning.

“All along, this has been a race to the finish,” Kallos, the councilman, said in an interview. “I hope to vote on it as soon as possible. Communities want a say in how their neighborhoods are developed.”

 

Read more

Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Thursday, October 5, 2017

There were and continue to be criticisms about the requirement that City Council members relinquish virtually all outside income. Some stemmed from concerns that an outright ban on outside income could discourage small business owners from running for office, according to Council Member Ben Kallos, who co-sponsored the legislation and chairs the governmental operations committee. The bill was tweaked to make allowances for passive income and would not force electeds to dissolve their business entities completely.

“It’s just what we could reasonably expect from people. So, if somebody has spent their career as a small business person, and brought that small business experience to the City Council,  which can be invaluable…,” said Kallos. “After four years or eight years, [that person] could return to their community, and continue doing what they did to begin with.”

Rather than stripping a small number of elected officials of their non-governmental livelihoods, the goal was to ensure that Council members focus on their districts full-time, and to avoid any real or apparent conflicts of interest.

“It is a concern for me that someone with business before the city could hire a member of the City Council in the hopes of gaining influence,” said Kallos, who represents Manhattan’s 5th Council District.

Kallos said that before taking office in 2014, he personally retired from the practice of law in three states and dissolved LLCs for companies he had started. He said he is still in the process of dissolving several non-profits he created.

“All of them have had, literally had no business since I got elected. But, it can be a complicated and weird, long process,” he said.

While dissolving these entities is not required by the bill, Kallos said, “I felt that as the author of the law in question, I have to set a good example and go one step further than the law requires.”

Read more

Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Meanwhile, ERFA proposed its rezoning plan to limit the heights of buildings and create a new inclusionary housing zone that would allow developers to build up to 350 feet if they include affordable units in their projects. The proposal has garnered the support of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council members Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos and state Sen. Liz Krueger, but it has not yet received the crucial approval from City Planning.

Kallos, who helped co-found ERFA, said the group is made up of more than 2,000 people across 45 buildings in the area. The Council member said the rezoning effort is spurred by the fact that construction in his district is rampant and residents are seeing very little affordable housing created in the area.

 "You can literally walk anywhere in my district and see one construction site from another construction site,” said Kallos, who told TRD that he wanted to step in to prevent “another 432 Park Avenue” from towering over the city. “People in my district are getting development fatigue.”

 

Read more

Newsletter

As we welcome the autumn temperatures of October for those of you who celebrate Shannah Tova as I reflect during these days of awe, if I or my team have disappointed you, please let me know so that we may seek your forgiveness as we try to do better in the coming year.

It is deeply sad that October started out with the tragic and horrifically violent events in Las Vegas that took the lives of at least 59 people. I hope that this nation can finally adopt gun control and that this coming year be a blessed one filled with peace, health and joy.

September was a month with many timely hearings surrounding several pieces of legislation my office is trying to turn into law. Whether it is taking on construction noise, making Zero Waste by 2030 a law, banning toxic pesticides in our City’s parks or even supporting students with Gender-Sexuality Alliances in our schools, I have been working to improve our great City. 

Now that flu season is just around the corner I want to invite residents to our October Annual Senior Health Fair on Thursday, October 19 from 11am to 2pm at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House where No-Cost flu shots will be available to residents who RSVP.

If you are interested in the Participatory Budgeting process and being a key part of deciding how the community spends $1 million, now is the time to get involved and submit your ideas.  On Tuesday, October 17 at 6pm join us for a Participatory Budgeting Assembly at my District Office at 244 East 93rd Street RSVP.  If you can’t make it that day make sure to submit your ideas online.

Sincerely,


Ben Kallos

P.S. If you’d like to meet with me this month keep in mind that  First Friday is canceled in observance of Sukkot but you can still meet with me on specific policy ideas during Brain Storming with Ben on Tuesday, October 10, at 6pm RSVP.

SPECIAL EVENTS

October 19, 11am-2pm
Senior Health Fair

October 14, 11am-2:30pm
Free- Helmets and Fitting

October 17, 6pm-7pm
Participatory Budgeting Assembly

October 19, 11am-2pm
Senior Health Fair: FREE Flu Shots

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

October 7, 8am-10am
First Friday

October 5, 12, 19 & 26
3:30pm-6:30pm
Fresh Food Box
(Outside District Office)

October 17, 6pm
Brainstorming With Ben

No First Friday in Observance Due to Religious Observance

EDUCATION

1. Free School Lunches
2. More Pre-Kindergarten Seats for UES
3. Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Opening Ceremony
4. Child Center NY Beacon Celebrates First Day

LEGISLATION HEARD 

5. Free Childcare for Government Meetings
6. P.S 290 Students Lobby to Ban Pesticides in City Parks
7. Gender Sexuality Alliance Legislation Hearing
8. Environmental Committee Hearing on Noise in New York City
9. Hearing on Agencies Not Enforcing Quality of Life Violations
10.Zero Waste Hearing Codifying 1573 into Law

COMMUNITY 

11. East River Greenway Construction on Esplanade Announced
12. $959.00 Trash Cans
13. My Scaffolding Bill Would Help Businesses
14. Labor Day Parade
15. Asphalt Green Gets New Pool Filters
16. Annual Town Hall Recap and Thank You

Read more

Press Release
Monday, October 2, 2017

 New York, NY – Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) President and CEO Louis A. Shapiro joined Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and NYC Parks Manhattan Commissioner Bill Castro for an official groundbreaking on renovations to the East River Esplanade from 70th to 72nd Streets by HSS. The revitalization and improvements by HSS to the East River Esplanade in this section were negotiated by Council Member Ben Kallos as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for new construction that was voted on and passed the City Council on July 23, 2015. 

Read more

Press Coverage
CNBC
Saturday, September 30, 2017

Free lunch for all from CNBC.

Giving out lunch based on this criterion has led to what some observers have branded as "lunch shaming." As a result, many kids chose to skip lunch to avoid bullying.

New York City Council member Ben Kallos knows that effect all too well. He grew up in the Upper East Side section of Manhattan, which is known to be very wealthy, and attended the Bronx High School of Science. However, he stood out among his classmates.

"Not only did I come from a single parent household, but a multi-generational household, which meant I was eligible for free or reduced lunch," Ben Kallos, NYC Council member told CNBC's "On the Money."

He added that every day his friends would go out and buy lunch instead of staying in the cafeteria. So he had to make a choice between friends and food.

"I would tell them I wasn't hungry, when the truth is, I was starving," Kallos said.

"Every single child will be treated the same. No one will have to worry if their family can afford it…and we'll actually be giving kids an even start to life," said Kallos.

Read more