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Opposing the Marine Transfer Station

Marine Transfer Stations must not be placed in residential neighborhoods or existing...

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A Vision for the Esplanade

Investing in our open space and waterfront

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Vote, comment, improve upon, or suggest your own solutions for a better city.

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

ALERT: Legionnaires’ Disease Cluster on Upper East Side

Over the past 11 days, seven cases of legionnaires disease have been reported in the Lenox Hill area of the Upper East Side, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Of the seven cases, four patients are recovering and two have already been discharged from the hospital. Sadly, one member of our community has died, and my thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones.

Upper East Side Legionnaires' Disease
Information Session with Department of Health
Monday, June 19 at 6PM

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 East 70th Street
Event details subject to change so please RSVP

Please be on the lookout for respiratory symptoms, which may be a sign of the disease, including:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches

If you are experiencing these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person. Those at high risk include people aged 50 or older, especially cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung disease or with weakened immune systems.

In 2015, following the outbreak in the Bronx I co-sponsored legislation introduced by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, which was signed into law as Local Law 77 of 2015 to require registration, inspection, cleaning, disinfecting, testing, and annual certification in order to reduce and contain the growth of Legionella in cooling towers, which causes Legionnaire's.

I am in close contact with the Health Department as they identify the source of the cluster and eliminate it as quickly as possible.

Learn more:

You can get more timely updates on Twitter at @BenKallos or @nycHealthy.

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos
Council Member

Updates

Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

As I promised during my campaign for City Council in 2013, I have endeavored to have an open and transparent office that is accountable to you the people. One of the most effective ways was through our monthly email newsletter.

As we get closer to the primary elections on September 12, 2017 and the general elections on November 7, 2017 and I begin to run for re-election to the New York City Council, current law prohibits elected officials from sending newsletters to residents, even if they have subscribed to receive them on a monthly basis. The 2017 election “blackout period” begins June 14, 2017, and ends after the elections. During this period my government office will only be able to send physical and digital correspondence specifically related to constituent service, the budget, and events.

We will still be able to provide news in person at our district office, by phone 212-860-1950, email at BKallosatBenKallos [dot] com, through our website at BenKallos.com and social media so please follow Twitter.com/BenKallos and like Facebook.com/BenKallos.

As always we are here to help.

Sincerely,


Ben Kallos
Council Member

 

MEET BEN

First Friday, 8AM - 10AM, District Office, Join me and your neighbors for a conversation.
Brainstorm with Ben, 2nd Tuesday, 6PM - 7PM, District Office. Organize to make your ideas a reality.
Ben In Your Building. Gather 10 neighbors and I will come to you!

 

Free Legal Clinics

By appointment from 3pm-6pm:
Housing, Every Monday
Family Law and Domestic Violence, 1st Tuesday
Life Planning, 3rd Wednesday

 

Fresh Food Box

Thursdays, 3:30pm and 6:30pm (through November)
Pay only $14 and pick up farm fresh produce the next week.
(cash, credit/debit, SNAP/food stamps, greenmarket bucks)
Visit BenKallos.com/FreshFoodBox

 

Here to Help

We are here to help. My social work team can help you find out what services you are eligible for and assist you in your application. Some examples include:

  • Seniors: Medicare savings, Meals-on-Wheels, Access-A-Ride
  • Housing: searching for affordable units, free legal housing clinic at my office
  • Jobs: training resources and assistance, unemployment benefits
  • Families: Universal Pre-K, Head Start, After-School programs
  • Finances: cash assistance, tax credits, home energy assistance
  • Nutrition: WIC, free meals for all ages

Please also call us at 212-860-1950 or email at bkallosatbenkallos [dot] com with any unresolved 311 complaints.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs*
June 17, Dusk
St. Catherine's Park
(*Movie Changed from Good Dinosaur)
RSVP

FREE Bike Helmets
June 17, 11AM - 2:30PM
Good Shepherd, 543 Main Street, RI
RSVP

Roosevelt Island Town Hall
June 22, 6PM
Good Shepherd, 543 Main Street, RI
RSVP

Jason Bourne
June 24, Dusk
John Jay Park
RSVP

All FREE N.Y. Classical Theatre:
Sheridan’s “The Rivals”

July 12 - 16, 7PM
Carl Schurz Park, 86th Street and East End Avenue
RSVP

Cooking with Kallos
June 3, 11AM - 1PM
Isaacs Greenmarket
First Avenue and 92nd Street
RSVP

Town Hall: FREE Reusable Bags
September 19, 6PM
MSK, 430 East 67th Street
RSVP

Emergency Preparedness: FREE Go Bags
September 27, 6PM
TBD
RSVP

Senior Health Fair: FREE Flu Shots
October 19, 11AM - 2PM
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House,
331 East 70th Street
RSVP

Holiday Party
December 5, 5PM - 7PM
District Office, 244 East 93rd Street
RSVP

 

 

 

Read more

Newsletter

Dear Friend,

It has been three years, five months and seven days since I began serving as your City Council Member. I am deeply proud of the work we have accomplished together and excited for the road ahead.

I want to thank all whom I have already had a chance to meet and look forward to meeting you or seeing you again at my District Office at 244 East 93rd Street for First Friday, Brainstorm with Ben, monthly events (BenKallos.com/Events) or I can come to you if you gather ten neighbors for Ben In Your Building.

If you would like to compare my goals with actions over the past two years, please have a look at my 2013 Policy Book as well as my Inauguration and three States of the District, where we looked to the past and prepared for a bright future. I am proud of these achievements, but I know we have much more to do together. Thank you for your support over the past two years. I am looking forward to all we can accomplish in the remainder of my first term.

Sincerely,


Ben Kallos
Council Member

 

BY THE NUMBERS

Constituent Service Cases: 6,149 and counting
Legislation Authored: 98
Introductions Authored: 82
Introductions Heard: 23 (28%)
Introductions Enacted into Law: 19 (23%)
Resolutions Authored: 16
Resolutions Adopted: 6 (38%)
Land Use Matters Adopted: 6
Legislation Authored Adopted or Enacted: 25 (26%)
City Council Attendance: 99% (341 Committee Meetings)
Governmental Operations Committee Hearings Chaired: 48
Legislation Passed by Committee: 53 (43 Introductions, 10 Resolutions)
Legislation Sponsored: 714
Legislation Sponsored Adopted or Enacted: 464 (65%)
Ben in Your Building: More than three dozen
First Fridays & Brainstorm with Ben: More than three dozen
Mobile Hours: Hundreds
Free Legal Clinics: Hundreds
Community Meetings: Hundreds
Petitions Signed:  4,290 and counting
Reusable Bags Distributed: 3,500+
Participatory Budgeting Investments in Community: $6.9 Million

 

INVESTING IN EDUCATION

  1. Winning More Pre-Kindergarten Seats
  2. Better Planning for School Seats
  3. Supporting Arts Education with Annual Show at Sotheby's
  4. Feeding Hungry Students
  5. Investing in STEM Education
  6. Green Roofs
  7. Supporting Free City and State University

BETTER COMMUTES

  1. Opening the Second Avenue Subway
  2. Improving Bus Service with New Buses for the Upper East Side
  3. Improving Bus Service with Off-Board Fare Payment for M79 and M86
  4. New Ferry Service for the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island
  5. Roosevelt Island Tram Approved for Another 50 Years
  6. Focus on Safety for Our Most Dangerous Streets
  7. Extra Time for Pedestrians to Cross York Avenue
  8. New CitiBike Stations on the Upper East Side and Incentivized Safety Class
  9. Bike Safety Program Expansion to Entire Upper East Side and Midtown East
  10. Accessible Sidewalks for All

IMPROVING AND CREATING NEW PARKS

  1. Expanding and Rebuilding the East River Esplanade 
  2. Opened a New Park on East 90th Street Pier
  3. Conservancies and Funding for Local Parks
  4. Revitalizing the Waterfront Management Advisory Board

QUALITY OF LIFE

  1. Cleaning Up the Upper East Side with 300+ New Trash Cans
  2. A Plan to Take Scaffolding Down
  3. Improved Quality of Life Enforcement
  4. Supporting the Homeless with ETHOS

PROTECTING TENANTS AND FIGHTING OVER DEVELOPMENT

  1. Rezoning to Stop Superscrapers
  2. Challenging Skyscrapers in Residential Neighborhoods
  3. Safer Construction with Law to Count Every Life
  4. Won Two Rent Freezes
  5. Freezing Rents for Senior and Disabled New Yorkers
  6. Ended Downsizing of Seniors into Studio Apartments
  7. Uncovered Hundreds of Thousands of Units of Affordable Housing
  8. Protected Quiet Side Streets on the Mid-Block from Overdevelopment
  9. Mandatory Affordable Housing for New Neighborhood Plans
  10. Protected Landmarks Citywide
  11. Landmarked the Wooden House on East 85th Street
  12. Recognized for Leading Preservation
  13. Tenant Blacklist Regulation Proposed
  14. Opening Up Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS)
  15. Fighting For Tenant Safety
  16. Reformed the Board of Standards and Appeals

MARINE TRANSFER STATION

  1. Fighting the Marine Transfer Station

GOOD GOVERNMENT REFORM AND TRANSPARENCY

  1. Eliminated Outside Income and Legal Bribery
  2. Weakening the Influence of Special Interests Money in Politics
  3. Voter Information Portal Law Enacted
  4. Won Affordable High-Speed Internet for Low-Income New Yorkers
  5. Millions for the Community Voted for by Residents in Participatory Budgeting
  6. Demanded Answers on the Rivington Nursing Home Scandal
  7. Get Big Money out of New York City Politics
  8. Focusing on Better Management

PASSED LEGISLATION

Quality Of Life Enforcement
Construction Safety
Protecting Neighborhood Planning From Overdevelopment
Ethics Reform
Campaign Finance Reform
Election Reforms
Transparency In Government
Coastal Resiliency For Climate Change
Women’s Issues

Read more

Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

 The East River 50s Alliance is proposing to cap building heights at 260 feet.
The East River 50s Alliance is proposing to cap building heights at 260 feet.
East River 50s Alliance

SUTTON PLACE — Locals' bid for a zoning change to block super-tall skyscrapers in Sutton Place is undergoing formal public review after a year-and-a-half of planning — but city officials are concerned it could discourage affordable housing in the area.

On Monday, the City Planning Commission began its review of the zoning proposal, which would ban any commercial development between East 52nd and 59th streets east of First Avenue, except for “community uses” such as medical offices and day care centers. It would also impose a height cap limiting any new development to 260 feet, and mandate that 13 percent of any new development be dedicated to below-market-rate housing in exchange for bonus Floor Area Ratio (FAR).

The proposal comes after plans were filed by the Bauhouse Group for a 900-foot skyscraper at 430 E. 58th St. in 2015, though the proposal later fell through.

Residents of 45 buildings totaling more than 2,000 individuals have supported the zoning plan, elected officials said.

"The community has won a major victory with the certification of our rezoning proposal to stop the march of super-scrapers and build more affordable housing in residential neighborhoods," said Councilman Ben Kallos, who supports the proposal with other local elected officials. "While I am disappointed with how long it took to certify, it is better late than never."

Robert Shepler, co-chairman of the The East River 50s Alliance Leadership Committee, which is behind the effort, said that developers in Sutton Place are not required to contribute to the city’s affordable housing goals.

"Nor do supertalls do much to address the City’s need for additional market rate units because they produce fewer apartments — often for absentee owners — than more modestly scaled buildings with comparable square footage," he said.

Read more

Press Coverage
FOX 5 WNYW
Thursday, June 8, 2017

NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Bike lanes are all over New York City. And yet seeing bikers pedaling wherever they see fit is not uncommon. Many of these bikers are making deliveries.

City Councilman Ben Kallos is working to fix the problem with a bike safety initiative. The group stops by local restaurants and offers delivery people free helmets, safety lessons and more.

But things get more complicated when delivery men and women ride e-bikes. An e-bike looks no different than an average bike, except for a small electric motor attached to the frame. That motor makes the bike illegal.

 

New York's laws on e-bikes are murky. Selling motorized bikes that have a maximum speed of less than 20 mph is legal, but riding them isn't. If your e-bike is confiscated, you can get it back after a having a court hearing and paying a $500 fine.

photo

The NYPD confiscated 155 e-bikes in 2016 and a whopping 691 so far in 2017. While some lawmakers, like Councilman Kallos, favor the confiscations, others say e-bikes are just as safe as regular bikes. Assemblyman Nick Perry said e-bikes help people who have to pedal a lot during the day, especially low-wage workers who work hard to support their families. He has introduced legislation to legalize e-bikes in New York. The Transportation Committee is reviewing the bill.

Right now, pedal-assist e-bikes are classified as bicycles in New York City, meaning those are legal to use.

Citing safety concerns, the de Blasio administration squashed legislation in 2015 to include other forms of e-bikes.

Read more

Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

They originally conceived of a requirement that every school set up a group to help gays but learned the Council doesn’t have the authority to mandate that. Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) introduced the legislation on their behalf Tuesday. “The rise of hate crimes nationally and in the city means it is more important than ever that the city supports our LGBTQ youth through these student-run clubs,” he said.

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Press Release
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"The community has won a major victory with the certification of our rezoning proposal to stop the march of super-scrapers and build more affordable housing in residential neighborhoods. While I am disappointed with how long it took to certify, it is better late than never," said Council Member Ben Kallos.

He added, "Thank you to residents of 45 buildings and over 2,000 individual supporters from the neighborhood who have brought the first of its kind grassroots community rezoning to be certified that I am proud to support. Now the rezoning can go to Community Board 6 for a quick approval since they had sought this rezoning to begin with. Then it’s back to City Planning for what we hope will be a vote in favor of protecting residential neighborhoods from super-scrapers, protecting seniors like Herndon Werth and Charles Fernandez living in rent stabilized housing from displacement for billionaires and to actually building affordable housing in the East 50s.”

Read more

Press Coverage
Queens Chronicle
Thursday, June 1, 2017

Variance-seeking developers will be affected by one of the laws, which Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) introduced. In their BSA applications, they will have to demonstrate that the situation is a unique one in the neighborhood. And if they lie on their application, they face a civil penalty of up to $15,000.

Kallos introduced four other bills signed by de Blasio that affect staffing at the BSA and aim to make it more transparent.

One of the former requires the Department of City Planning to appoint a coordinator who testifies in defense of existing zoning rules to the BSA; the testimony will be accessible on the internet. The other mandates that a New York State-certified real estate appraiser be available to consult with or work for the BSA to analyze and review real estate financials that developers provide.

The transparency measures dictate that the locations for all sites for which special permits and variances were approved by the BSA since 1998 be viewable as a layer and list on an interactive New York City map. The second law requires the BSA to biannually report the average length of time it takes to make a decision on an application; the total number of applications; how many were approved and denied and the number of pre-application meeting requests.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Thursday, June 1, 2017

"I attended these meetings and we weren't allowed to say 'no,'" Holmes resident and Community Voices Heard member Lakesha Taylor said. "We were given choices with no answers. What is this really for? You're not even fulfilling your deficit. We're getting darkness, we're getting dust...for a building [that] will be 50/50."

Roughly $40 million in repairs are needed at Holmes Towers alone, officials said.

"The city is losing money on this deal," Kallos said, explaining that the city will only rake in $25 million from the development, while it plans to give Fetner $13 million toward the building's construction and lose millions of dollars in unpaid taxes as part of the building's 99-year lease.

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch,NYC

The politicians attending Tuesday's rally agreed. A number of local representatives — Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Ben Kallos, State Senators Liz Krueger and Jose Serrano and State Assemblymembers Dan Quart and Robert Rodriguez — submitted a letter to NYCHA containing more than 30 questions about the plan.

"Funding for NYCHA repairs should not come on the backs of NYCHA residents, especially children who will be losing their light, air and playground for little in return," Kallos said in a statement.

On May 17, NYCHA announced that Fetner Properties won a bid to construct a 47-story apartment building on the site of the Holmes Tower playground. The new building would contain hundreds of apartments (estimated at 350 by area politicians), half of which would be offered at market rates and half at affordable rates. But politicians and residents have argued that the affordable rates would actually be unaffordable for public housing residents.

Residents also argued against the size of the building. Taylor said Tuesday that the new building will tower over the rest of the Holmes Towers, with new residents effectively looking down on the NYCHA residents.

Read more