Stop Super-Scrapers

Join our fight against buildings of unlimited heights in residential neighborhoods

Legislation

Read, vote and comment on my legislation

Opposing the Marine Transfer Station

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

Livable Streets

Safer streets for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers ...

A Vision for the Esplanade

Investing in our open space and waterfront

Join Our Open Policy Platform

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

Newsletter is Back and There's a Lot of Good News to Share

Dear Neighbor,

The newsletter is back! We send the newsletter once a month so we don't clutter your mailbox and keep you up to date on everything going on in the community, as well as opportunities to influence government decisions by making your voice heard.

Thank you to all the residents who came out to the polls in the Primary and General Elections, where we won with 7,847 votes at 75% and 22,514 votes at 81% respectively. This is a testament to our partnership and shows that empowering residents helps to govern honestly and inclusively—and it's the best way to get things done.

During the blackout period when we could not send government newsletters because of our pending elections, we won Universal School Lunch, launched ferry service and opened Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island, rolled out bus countdown clocks, broke ground on $35 million in improvements to the East River Esplanade, signed tenant safety legislation I authored into law, and I was even recognized as one of the best Council Members by City and State.

Last month we broke ground on $1 million in renovations to the East River Esplanade in partnership with the Hospital for Special Surgery, cut the ribbon on a new laboratory building with Memorial Sloan Kettering, made progress on rezoning Sutton to stop supertall skyscrapers, passed two bills so that schools ensure no child goes hungry and train teachers to support GSAs, passed legislation to open the city's $85 billion budget and welcomed the Technion Israel Institute of Technology world tour.

As November starts I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and take this opportunity to invite everyone to my annual holiday party on Tuesday, December 5th, 5-7pm. RSVP

Regards,


Ben Kallos
Council Member

 

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

November 27
9:45AM - 11PM
Medicare Open Enrollment Event

November 27
6:30PM-8:30PM
Community Town Hall, Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island

November 30
6:30PM
College Affordability Excelsior Scholarship Forum

December 7
7:30PM
Mayor's Town Hall

January 7
1PM-3PM
State of the District 

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

November 14
6PM – 7PM
Brainstorming with Ben

November 30
6:30PM-7PM
CitiBike Street Skills Class

December  5
5PM – 7PM
Holiday Party

SUMMER HIGHLIGHTS

  1. August
  2. September
  3. October

OVERDEVELOPMENT

  1. Sutton Rezoning at City Planning Commission
  2. Scaffolding Bill Gets Hearing
  3. Marijuana Smoking at 180 East 88th Street
  4. Height Protections for Upper East Side

EDUCATION

  1. Ensuring No Child Goes Hungry (Bill Passed)
  2. Support GSAs in Public Schools (Bill Passed)
  3. Silicon Island: Technion Israel Institute of Technology World Tour
  4. Fighting to Fund Hunter Science Campus Construction

PARKS & ENVIRONMENT

  1. Breaking Ground on East River Esplanade Construction at HSS
  2. It's My Park Day
  3. Banning Toxic Pesticides from Parks
  4. Climate Works for All Building Retrofits

PUBLIC HEALTH

  1. New MSK Center for Laboratory Medicine Ribbon Cutting
  2. Senior Health Fair Success
  3. American Academy Committee on Nutrition and Obesity
  4. Asphalt Green Swim Meet

GOOD GOVERNMENT

  1. Open Budget (Bill Passed)
  2. Oversight of Mayor's Management
  3. Questioning City Technology Costs

TRANSPORTATION

  1. Plan to Fight Double Parking and Move Deliveries Off-Hours
  2. Bike Safety Helmet Fitting
  3. Bernie, Bill and Ben

COMMUNITY

  1. Protesting Gun Violence with Congress Member Maloney
  2. Know Your Rights for Immigrants at Islamic Cultural Center
  3. Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach
  4. Youth Action March
  5. Building Service Worker Helping Hand Award
  6. Honoring former Community Board Chair David Liston
  7. Halloween Neighborhood Celebrations

OFFICE UPDATES

  1. Legislative Corner
  2. Free Legal Clinics
  3. Here to Help
  4. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS 

  1. City Council Events
  2. Community Board Meetings
  3. New York City Police Department
  4. Community Events For Adults
  5. Community Events For Children

Updates

Press Coverage
NY1
Thursday, September 28, 2017

They are a common sight around the city -- scaffolding surrounding buildings. But once they go up, many scaffolds do not come down for years -- creating eyesores and quality-of-life problems in their neighborhoods. One Councilman is trying to change that. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report:

When Fernando Salomone opens the door to his fire escape, he often finds trash spread across the top of scaffolding surrounding the building next door.

"You see fresh food. There's a sandwich over there, diapers over here," he said, examining the scaffolding.

Salomone says it's been a problem since he opened his gym on Broadway and West 104th Street nearly three years ago. Sometimes it is so bad, he leaves his windows closed to keep out mice and the smell of rotting trash.

"I'm on Broadway, it should be clean," Salomone said. "If I throw garbage from the window, they will give me a ticket, right?

"No one does anything with this garbage."

The scaffolding surrounds a city-owned building that is used as a homeless shelter. It went up four years ago to prevent parts of the deteriorating facade from falling onto the sidewalk. But since then, the city hasn't done anything to repair that facade.

"I think the city should be embarrassed about any scaffolding around any city building," City Councilman Ben Kallos said.

This scaffolding highlights a citywide problem of landlords erecting sidewalk sheds and not taking them down.

One building has had scaffolding since 2006. Another in East Harlem has had one for ten years, as has a building in Chelsea, all of which are seen in the video above.

Kallos has proposed legislation to end the nuisances and eyesores of perpetual scaffoldings.

"Anytime somebody puts up the scaffolding, they have to immediately start work or take it back down, and if they can't afford to do the work, the city would end up doing for them and charging for them later," Kallos said.

There are 7,800 active sidewalk shed permits, half of which are in Manhattan.

A law requires owners of buildings taller than six stories to erect scaffolding every five years to inspect the facades.

Landlords who don't make the repairs in 90 days face fines of $1,000 a month. But some choose to leave the scaffolding up and pay the fines to avoid costly facade repairs.

The de Blasio administration said it is reviewing Kallos's bill.

As for this sidewalk shed on Broadway, it is expected to come down soon, but it will then be replaced with another sidewalk shed. Once that happens, work will finally begin on the building, with repairs to the façade expected to be completed in 2019.

Read more

Press Coverage
Commercial Observer
Thursday, September 28, 2017

New York City Council District 5 representative Ben Kallos first discovered news of Bauhouse’s planned development from a local resident while attending an Easter egg hunt in April 2015.

“Somebody in the neighborhood [said to me], ‘Did you know there is going to be a tower? Somebody wants to put up 1,000 feet here,’ ” Kallos told CO. “And I’m like, ‘You mean at 432 Park?’ They said, ‘No, [East] 58th Street and Sutton [Place].’ I said, ‘There’s no way. Is this an April Fool’s Day joke?’ ”

By January 2016, the ERFA—backed by Kallos and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer as well as State Senator Liz Krueger and Councilman Dan Garodnick—had formed and filed its first rezoning application with the Department of City Planning, looking to cap the height of the building and also secure a section of the residential development for affordable housing units.

This April, CO reported that Gamma had spent the previous few months demolishing the three tenement buildings that had previously occupied the site. The company is now prepared to go forward with the tower’s construction, according to Kalikow. But, the surrounding community, two years into a fight against super-tall neighboring commercial buildings, is determined to halt the project.

Brewer first met with Bauhouse to discuss the site, prior to Gamma taking it over and recalled, “We met with [Bauhouse], and I’ll admit I said, ‘This is an awfully tall building. Do you know what you’re doing?’ I think I said, ‘You have to be kidding me?’ ” she said.

Kallos, Krueger, Garodnick and a representative of Brewer met with Kalikow on May 11 to discuss controversies surrounding the site, including the community’s firm opposition and how steep a climb Gamma would have to complete the project.

“[We told them] we’re not Beninati: We know what we’re doing, and we’re building for New York buyers because this is a New York enclave,” Kalikow said. “They said, ‘We don’t care, it’s too high.’ ”

Kallos said that during the meeting, he flagged the height of the building and warned Kalikow that it might be in Gamma’s best interest to scale down the project to fit the neighborhood’s context or use its air rights elsewhere.

Kalikow interpreted that as a threat and that Kallos was “going to do something with these tenants to hurt us,” he said.

The councilman said he simply brought forth community concerns.

“I offered them options such as using their air rights in other parts of the city,” Kallos added. “We also talked to them about the fact that the rezoning we were proposing would actually give them additional floor area ratio on site—that wasn’t on site and already there—in order to build affordable housing. It was not a threat; it was a specific explanation of the fact that I had hoped that we could work together.”

One of the ways Kalikow believes Kallos followed through on what he thought was a “threat” was through the community’s increased use of 311 calls this past summer, specifically around the Fourth of July weekend, which invited greater scrutiny on the site. (The city must log and address each complaint as it relates to construction safety.)

“I am proud of it,” Kallos responded cheerfully to Kalikow’s accusation that he urged residents to call 311. “Every day I get complaints from residents about construction noise. Any person who is being bothered by construction at [the Sutton Place development] or at any site in my district, I ask them to call 311; I ask them to reach out to me personally. I’m proud.” (When asked about a stop-work order issued on June 28 by the New York City Department of Buildings, Kallos said, “I wish I could take credit for that stop-work order. The DOB was doing their job. It actually took us some time to figure out what happened.”)

 
Read more

Press Coverage
AM New York
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dozens of young students learned a real-life civics lesson Tuesday, performing a skit in front of the City Council’s Committee on Health and advocating for a bill that would ban more pesticides from being used in city parks and public spaces.

The children, from PS 290 on the Upper East Side, got to see firsthand how grassroots legislation can come to be — the bill, Intro 0800, started in 2014 when they were learning about pesticides in school and were visited by a local City Council member.

“To me, this is the essence of education,” Paula Rogovin, a kindergarten teacher at PS 290, said. “This started with a study about tomatoes and watermelon in our school ... the only thing we can do is to get them to be proactive, to get them to do something about it.

Read more

Press Coverage
NBC News 4 New York
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Children at one New York City school testified in City Council chambers against the use of pesticides in parks. Roseanne Colletti reports.

Read more

Press Coverage
CBS New York
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It was first introduced in May 2015. Council Member Ben Kallos was one of its sponsors, and some of the children have been in the chambers advocating before.

“We protested a little bit,” Savann Basen said.

Kallos said his goal is to use only biological pesticides that come from natural materials instead of synthetic materials. He said what’s most concerning is the herbicide spray called Roundup.

“The World Health Organization found that it was a carcinogen, so we introduced legislation right away,” he said.

Read more

Press Coverage
FOX 5 WNYW
Monday, September 25, 2017

NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - New York City has purchased numerous dome-top garbage cans. Are they worth nearly a thousand dollars each when last year they were about half the price?

Council Member Ben Kallos doesn't think so. Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, has bought the dome garbage cans since 2014 with money that is allocated to every council member from the City Council budget. The expense is part of his discretionary spending, which is money that council members can spend on whatever they feel will improve their district.

He said the trash cans are helping to keep the sidewalks clean so he wanted to buy more. But he discovered the price nearly doubled to $969 each, from $545.

The reason: the city now has a contract with a new company. The city's Department of Citywide Administrative Services handled the bidding process and explained that Kallos.

Kallos told Fox 5 that he is outraged and that the city needs to do a better job in its bidding process.

DCAS issued a statement: "The procurement policy requires a fair and competitive bidding process, and the existing contract we hold reflects the lowest possible price resulting from that process."

The company that charged $545 per trash can told the city it was losing money on each sale so it did not rebid for the new contract.

Read more

Press Coverage
New York Post
Sunday, September 24, 2017

Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos said he protested the price surge to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which inked the deal, but was told it can’t be renegotiated.

“There is something wrong with the way we buy things as a city,” Kallos griped. “We never should have to pay more through a contract than if we bought it on the open market.”

Kallos said he had 284 of the domed, green trash cans installed on neighborhood sidewalks since taking office in 2014. At the time, they cost $545 a pop under a different contract.

The cans were such a hit that Kallos said he planned to order more — until he learned the new cost, $969.

 

Read more

Press Coverage
Crain's New York

On Thursday, a worker named Juan Chonillo fell to his death from a Fortis Property Group project in lower Manhattan. He was employed by a non-union firm called SSC High Rise Construction. Hours later, a 45-year-old worker employer by union subcontractor EJ Electric fell to his death at Brookfield Property's Manhattan West—the second fatality on the site in four months. The Department of Buildings said Monday that contractors in both instances have supplied the administration with the required data.

The legislation, sponsored by City Councilman Ben Kallos, was among a suite of construction bills passed earlier this year. Lawmakers are set to pass a controversial construction training bill on Wednesday

Read more