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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

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.


Ben Kallos
Council Member


Press Coverage
New York Post
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

“You’re taking their light and air and playground,” she said, standing in the play area alongside parents.

Maloney said the proposed project — for which the city would receive a $25 million payout from the developer in exchange for a 99-year lease — is short-sighted.

“We need more green, not greed, in the city,” she said.

Councilmember Ben Kallos said he has attended dozens of meetings where the details of the lease and the construction plans are being hashed out.

Although half of the units in the new building are intended to be affordable housing, Kallos says he suspects the project would not benefit the existing community.

“I don’t think the NYCHA residences should be trapped in the shadows of the wealthy,” Kallos said.

“I want to save this playground.”

Protestors vowed to fight the plans.

Read more

Press Coverage
Friday, May 26, 2017

Taking cues from the community about trash spilling out of garbage bins and onto sidewalks, Councilman Ben Kallos set aside $154,780 of city discretionary funds to purchase 284 "High-End Litter Baskets," which cost $525 each. 

The new cans are larger than the typical bins found on many street corners and feature narrower openings at the top to prevent spillage, as well as covered tops to discourage "that extra coffee cup," according to Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who unveiled the bins alongside Kallos Friday outside the East 86th Street Second Avenue Subway Station.

Read more


Dear Neighbor,

I hope everyone had a relaxing and reflective Memorial Day and for those who celebrate Shavuos, please enjoy the coming days.

In May, transportation on the Upper East Side got even better as we kicked off Select Bus Service on the M79 and welcomed a fleet of 79 new buses to the neighborhood. If you've noticed the streets are getting cleaner, it is possible that the 284 new high-end trash cans that my office purchased to blanket 104 intersections in District 5 may have something to do with it. And as you may have heard by now, in April my office led a rally for more Pre-K seats on the Upper East Side. Now, a month later the Department of Education has responded with good news for the neighborhood.

I continue to oppose NYCHA’s plan to rip out the Holmes Towers playground to build a 47-story tower with luxury housing, and in May I rallied with tenants to let the city know their deal is unfair. If you dislike unnecessary scaffolding throughout the City as much as I do, the New York Times agrees with us and they editorialized on legislation I have introduced to force property owners to only be able to use scaffolding when it is necessary.

The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) is a little-known agency that controls exemptions given to developers on how they build in our City. For decades this agency has been used as a rubber stamp by developers to pave the way for buildings communities opposed. Thanks to a package of legislation getting signed into law in May, which included five bills I authored, the BSA will be much more transparent and accountable to the community.

This month we will hold a forum to discuss Fighting Overdevelopment on the Upper East Side, as well as a registration event for the New York City Rent Freeze Program, and our annual Roosevelt Island Town Hall.

As we get set to welcome summer, my office and the Parks Department have teamed up to bring activities for the community. Whether it is tennis open to the public at the Queensboro Oval, Movie Nights Under the Stars or Skate Night there are plenty of free activities for residents to enjoy as the temperatures increase.

Also back by popular demand is Grow NYC’s Fresh Food Box which will kick off at my office on June 15. Cooking with Kallos will also make a return on June 3 at the 82nd Street Greenmarket.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe start to summer, and Happy Fathers Day!


Ben Kallos

Council Member


June 8, 6PM
Overdevelopment Forum

June 8, 11AM – 1PM
Rent Freeze for Seniors & Disabled

June 22, 6PM
Roosevelt Island Town Hall


June 3, 17, 24 at Dusk
Movies Under the Stars

June 3, 11AM – 1PM
Cooking with Kallos

June 9, 6PM
Roller Skate Night

June 16 – September 10
Queensboro Oval Tennis

June 15, 22, 29, 3:30PM – 6:30PM
Fresh Foodbox

June 17, 11AM – 2:30PM
Bike Helmet Giveaway

June 7, 14, 21, 28, 7:15AM – 10:30AM
Food Scraps-on-the-Go


June 2, 8AM – 10AM
First Friday

June 13, 6PM – 7PM
Brainstorming with Ben

June 22, 6:30PM – 8PM
CitiBike Safety Class

June 13, 27, 28, 11AM – 2PM
Mobile Hours

June 5, 6, 12, 19, 21, 26, 3PM – 6PM
Legal Clinics


Read more

Press Coverage
Lic Post
Monday, May 29, 2017

One of the bills that passed now requires the BSA to list the number of applications it has approved or denied as well as the average length of time until a decision was rendered. Another bill requires the BSA to list all the variances and special applications action upon since 1998 to be available on an interactive map of the city.

Ben Kallos (Manhattan), who sponsored several of the bills, said in a statement: “We are taking away the rubber stamp from a government agency that used it far too often over the objections of residents.”

Read more

Press Release
Friday, May 26, 2017

Kallos Promises New Large Cans For Every Corner to Clean Up the Upper East Side

New York, NY – Litter strewn sidewalks on the Upper East Side are about to get cleaner following an investment of $154,780 by Council Member Ben Kallos in 284 new large trash cans personally delivered by Sanitation Department Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. The new large trash cans are housed in a green metal case with a dome top and a small opening that prevents trash from spilling and has been reported to deter rodents.

“I am here to clean up the Upper East Side with larger trash cans on every corner that can prevent overflow and litter that spills onto the streets,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I promise a new large trash can on every corner that needs one to keep our streets clean. I encourage any resident whose corner needs a new trash can or even a second large trash can to reach out so we can clean up our neighborhood together.” 

This massive rollout followed an initial pilot that brought 38 large trash cans to hot spots with 27 large trash cans just for the East 86th Street commercial corridor. Council Member Kallos sought out to cover Second Avenue from 96th to 54th street to coincide with the opening of the Second Avenue Subway in 2017. Following the 2016 pilot resident reported reduced litter and rodents with requests for more cans from the East Sixties Neighborhood Association (ESNA), the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association (E72NA), and the East 86th Street Association (E86NA). In response Council Member Kallos expanded from his original plan of covering Second Avenue to cover every corner that had a wire mesh trash can, providing 284 new large cans that cover 104 intersections in his district. 

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Press Coverage
Friday, May 26, 2017

Ben Kallos, NYC Council Member, introduced a bill that would require city agencies to begin making their data available via user interface / API. This would be a major step towards increasing city efficiency, by enabling the private sector to build solutions that meet their own local needs.

How we currently interact with various government agencies — even for simple tasks like renewing a license, reporting a power outage, or casting a vote — is incomprehensibly cumbersome and time consuming. There’s little reason why these processes have not already been app-enabled and mostly automated, except that our city agencies are fractured and don’t have the bandwidth to pull themselves off legacy systems into the modern world.

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Press Coverage
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Another bill from Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens) would require copies of BSA applications and materials be sent by certified mail to applicants. 

The Department of City Planning would have to publish online the name and contact information of the BSA coordinator under a measure from Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan). The agency would also have to post a record of each permit and the BSA would have to provide a link on their website to testimony from city planning. 

Two other measures from Kallos would require the BSA have access to an experienced, state-certified real estate appraiser and establish the minimum required materials that must be submitted with applications. Another would require the BSA to report on information regarding applications and compile date on the location of all variances and special permit applications.

Read more