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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

July News: CB6 Votes for Rezoning, Legionaires' Update, Low Rent Increase and More

Dear Neighbor,

Happy Fourth of July as we celebrate our nation's independence and remember that in every generation we must do our part to fight injustice.

Last month, we won more victories in our fight against overdevelopment and for affordable housing. Community Board 6 set a quick 21-day timeline in June voting unanimously for a community-led rezoning of the Sutton Area that trades height for affordability. The Rent Guidelines Board which sets rents for 1.6 million rent-stabilized apartments voted for a low increase of 1.25% on one-year and 2% on two-year leases after two consecutive rent freezes.

In June we celebrated Pride and graduations for both our students and PTA Presidents. I joined the Pride March and introduced legislation on behalf of East Side Middle School students to encourage Gender Sexuality Alliances. I also shared congratulations and the secret of life with students graduating from schools in the district and thanked PTA Presidents for their service.

This summer, I hope you will take advantage of our parks, especially the Indoor airconditioned tennis courts at the Queensboro Oval now open to the public for as little as $15 or join me for Theatre in Carl Schurz Park. If you are as big a fan of healthy farm to table food as I am, I hope you will join me for Cooking with Kallos or participate in our Fresh Food Box one week to see how you like it.

Even though we can't send our newsletter by electronic mail to those who subscribed through BenKallos.com for the next couple of months, we are keeping our promise to keep you informed by posting our newsletter on our website and circulating it through social media. If you want a printed copy you can come pick it up from our District Office. Please consider forwarding this newsletter on to anyone and everyone.

Regards,


Ben Kallos
Council Member

 

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

July 12 - 16, 7PM - 9PM
N.Y. Classical Theatre: Sheridan's "The Rivals"

July 16, 11AM – 1PM
Cooking with Kallos

July 6, 13, 20, 27, 3:30PM – 6:30PM
Fresh Foodbox

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

July 7, 8AM – 10AM
First Friday

July 11, 6PM – 7PM
Brainstorming with Ben

July 11, 19, 26, 11AM – 2PM
Mobile Hours

July 10, 17,19, 24, 31, 3PM – 6PM
Legal Clinics

July 27, 6:30PM – 7:30PM
CitiBike Street Skills Class

Table of Contents

Housing

  1. Rezoning Victory at CB6, Now on to City Planning
  2. Low Increases for Rent Stabilized Apartments and Rent Freeze for Seniors and Disabled

Parks

  1. Tennis Bubble Now Open to the Public
  2. Theatre in Carl Schurz Park

Health

  1. Upper East Side Legionnaires Cluster Update
  2. Automatic Benefits Hearing
  3. Global Sampling Day
  4. Rat Academy
  5. Buy Produce from the Farm and Cooking With Kallos

Education

  1. Celebrating Pride with Legislation to Encourage Gender Sexuality Alliances
  2. Eleanor Roosevelt High School's New Music Room and Retirement of Parent Coordinator
  3. Recognizing Parent-Teacher Association Leaders
  4. Graduations

Transportation

  1. Opposing Cuts to East and West Side Bus Service
  2. Bike Safety: Ebikes, Free Helmets, and Inspring Barcelona

Good Government

  1. Open Budget Hearing

Community

  1. June Events
  2. Here to Help
  3. Free Legal Clinics
  4. Mobile Office Hours
  5. Resource Guide
  6. Ben In Your Building

Events

  1. Council Events
  2. Events Supportted with Funding from My Office
  3. Community Meetings
  4. Community Events for Kids
  5. Community Events for Adults

Updates

Press Release
Friday, July 21, 2017

The New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 90 West Street who sued their landlord after their rents were substantially raised, even though their apartments were stabilized through 421(g). In August 2016, Public Advocate James, along with 37 elected officials, filed an amicus brief in support of the tenants who were forced to pay unfair rent increases by their landlord on their rent stabilized apartments. The judge ruled that the tenants will maintain their rent stabilized status and a referee will be appointed to determine damages. 

This is the second lawsuit involving 421(g) that tenants have won this month to protect all units of affordable housing that received the 421(g) tax abatement. On July 3, the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 50 Murray Street who also sued their landlord when rents were substantially raised despite being stabilized through 421(g).

“New York City's housing crisis is harming our City one family at a time,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This case was clear from the beginning: greedy landlords trying to double dip and cheat the system by cashing in on luxury deregulation exclusions while at the same time getting tax breaks for rent controlled units. The law is clear and it must be followed. Thank you to Tish James for being the advocate and attorney for millions of rent regulated New Yorkers who now more than ever need vigorous, committed defenders.”

Read more

Press Release
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Upper East Side- NY Compost On–the-Go, is a new program from GrowNYC’s zero waste initiatives funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation. Compost On–the-Go increases access to food waste composting for New Yorkers in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan.  Conveniently located near transit, drop-off sites are staffed by friendly compost coordinators ready to accept fruit and vegetable scraps as residents head out to start the day. In support of this environmentally savvy program Council Member Ben Kallos  joined a team of GrowNYC volunteers and employees at the 96th Street & Lexington Ave (6 Train) station on Thursday July 20th at 10am. Residents who wish to participate in composting are encouraged to drop off acceptable items every Wednesday from 7:15 am to 10:30am.  DSNY will transport collected scraps to a regional facility to be transformed into compost.  

Read more

Press Coverage
New York Times
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mr. Kallos has made curbing noise one of his top priorities. He and Costa Constantinides, a councilman from Queens, are proposing legislation that targets some of the most grating sounds by requiring city noise inspectors to respond within two hours when possible to catch noisemakers in the act. Inspectors currently have no legally mandated deadlines but follow departmental guidelines for responding within a certain period of time.

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Press Release
Thursday, July 20, 2017

New York, NY – Noise is the number one complaint in New York City, but to Council Member Ben Kallos and Environmental Chair Costa Constantinides it doesn’t need to be a fact of life in the Big Apple. Kallos and Constantinides introduced legislation in June to be heard in the fall that would require the city to respond to noise complaints for nightlife and construction within two hours or on a subsequent day within an hour of the time of the complaint. The bill aims to increase the likelihood that inspectors will identify the source of the noise, issue a violation, and restore quiet.
 
“Noise is such a big problem that it might be better to call us ‘Noise’ York City. If 311 is any indication, residents are tired of all the noise, and it is time we did something about it,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “It is hard to imagine a government of the people for the people ignoring the people’s top complaint and expecting them to be happy living here. I am disappointed by recent reports that the city is actually doing less to quiet noise as complaints rise. We as a city need to take this problem seriously, take it head on without excuses, and give every New Yorker the peace and quiet they need.”
 

Read more

Press Coverage
New York Times
Sunday, July 16, 2017

As the scaffolding has proliferated, the Buildings Department has faced growing criticism that it is not doing enough to police those structures that stay too long. A City Council bill targeting such scaffolding would require it to be taken down within six months of going up, or sooner when no work is being done. The bill has drawn opposition from building owners and managers who say they may not have the money to make repairs immediately.

City building officials say that scaffolding ensures public safety and that they are required to ensure that it remains up as long as a building needs work.

Over the years, the city has struggled to keep track of scaffolding when permits have lapsed, or when existing scaffolding is simply replaced with new scaffolding under a new permit. In the case of the Harlem building, city records initially showed that the scaffolding went up only in 2012, which is when the owner replaced it.

Read more

Press Coverage
Habitat
Friday, July 14, 2017

“New Yorkers are exhausted by overdevelopment,” city councilman Ben Kallos, a leading opponent of the tall tower, tells the New York Times. “This is about standing up and showing the city that there’s another way to do things.”

Jon Kalikow, the president of Gamma Real Estate, says it would be a “disastrous outcome” if the city were to adopt the rezoning proposal.

“This building could dramatically change the character of our neighborhood,” says Alan Kersh, founding president of the East River Fifties Alliance, which opposes Gamma’s proposed tower and has more than 2,000 supporters, including 45 nearby co-ops and condominiums. Kersh lives across the street from the construction site in a 47-story building called the Sovereign.

Read more

Press Coverage
Our Town
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

At a July 7 meeting with elected representatives, MTA officials agreed to maintain current service levels on the M57 line, going back on an earlier proposal that would have increased headways on the route from 10 to 12 minutes during AM peak hours and from 12 to 15 minutes during PM peak hours. “The M57 was going to have the most cuts, and they’ve agreed to make no service changes to the M57,” Kallos said.

The proposed changes, scheduled to take effect in September, were first announced by MTA New York City Transit in a June 16 letter to elected officials and community boards. The letter also proposed reductions in service frequency on the M31, M66 and M72 bus lines that would increase scheduled wait times by 11 to 33 percent. Despite opposition from elected officials at the July 7 meeting, the MTA has not altered its proposal to cut service on the three lines, Kallos said.

 

Read more

Press Coverage
AM New York
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A zoning debate in Manhattan's Sutton Place may seem like just another posh neighborhood telling a developer its project is not welcome.

But City Hall is listening for a bellwether in the bickering.

A zoning proposal put forward by residents of the neighborhood may force Mayor Bill de Blasio to finally have to reckon with a much-criticized affordable housing program he pledged to examine 15 months ago, experts said.

Near the beginning of 2017, Gamma Real Estate filed plans for a co-op on Sutton Place. Some nearby residents said the project, which is now slated to be nearly 800 feet high, would tower over the neighborhood and change its character.

Read more

Press Coverage
New York Times
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

“New Yorkers are exhausted by overdevelopment,” said Ben Kallos, the city councilman who represents the area and a leading opponent of the tall tower. “This is about standing up and showing the city that there’s another way to do things.”

Critics of the project say that supertall towers in residential areas tend to overwhelm the neighborhood and displace less wealthy residents. Still, both Mayor Bill de Blasio and his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, rezoned large sections of the city for ever taller buildings.

The zoning change, which was proposed by Mr. Kallos and other elected officials as well as neighborhood residents, has been in the works for two years. The proposed rezoning was recently approved by the Manhattan borough president, Gale Brewer, and unanimously endorsed by the local community board. Mr. Kallos hopes that the City Council will approve the proposal after the city’s Planning Department holds a public hearing on the matter in August.

Read more

Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Last month, Kallos wrote to the department questioning the use of “public safety” to justify the after-hours permits. None of the work cited — including excavation and pouring concrete — “should qualify for ‘public safety,’” Kallos wrote.

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