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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

Affordable High-Speed Broadband Internet for Low-Income Youth & Seniors

Today, over one million low-income youth and seniors now have access to affordable high-speed internet.

As of 2015, more than 730,000 households in New York City do not have broadband, nearly 1 in 4 in Brooklyn and 1 in 3 in the Bronx, leaving them on the wrong side of the digital divide.

In 2013, I promised to secure affordable broadband for low-income New Yorkers from our internet franchisers. In 2015, when Charter Communications sought to merge with Time Warner Cable, I joined Public Advocate James testifying at hearings and advocating for the Public Service Commission to require any company acquiring Time Warner Cable help bridge the digital divide by providing low-income residents with low-cost high-speed broadband Internet which was secured by Governor Andrew Cuomo and an order of the Public Service Commission. Today, over one million low-income youth and seniors will have access low-cost high-speed broadband Internet. Learn more from the release, the announcement, or coverage in the New York Daily News, DNAinfo, and NBC

Spectrum Internet Assist
$14.99 per month for 30 Mbps downloads and 4 Mbps uploads, email and more
No contract, no cost for modem and no activation fees

Spectrum Internet Assist Eligibility
Families with children in public schools who receive free or reduced cost lunch
Seniors (over 65) who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Prospective enrollees must clear outstanding debt to Charter/Time Warner Cable/Bright House Networks from previous 12 months and may not have had broadband subscription within 30 days of signing up.

Visit SpectrumInternetAssist.com or Call 844-525-1574

We are one step closer to "Universal Broadband" and I will continue to fight until every New Yorker has access to affordable high-speed Internet and no one is left on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Updates

Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Friday, December 30, 2016

Per the de Blasio administration, “only 43 percent of working New Yorkers have access to a plan that can help them save for retirement,” but they are often subject to large fees, and “even those who have started to save do not have much: 40 percent of New Yorkers between the ages of 50 and 64 have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.”

The city-focused ruling from the Department of Labor, which applies only to municipalities of a certain size, comes after DOL paved the way for state-run programs earlier this year. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo already has a commission studying the issue. A state program could supercede a city one, though it would also depend on the details of the programs if the city were to launch one before the state. It is too early to tell which level of government will act first. In the city, Public Advocate James and City Council Member Ben Kallos are expected to lead on introducing legislation at the City Council, and the bill would likely go through Kallos' governmental operations committee.

Read more

Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Thursday, December 29, 2016

Carnegie Hill Neighbors, a preservation group said it planned to file an administrative appeal, and is preparing to go to court if necessary to stop the project.

“I am not sure what kind of building you can build on a 10-by-22-foot lot but I sure wouldn’t want to live there,’ said Council member Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat, who is opposing the project.

Read more

Press Coverage
New York Times
Friday, December 30, 2016

Even Yorkville’s city councilman, Ben Kallos, 35, who grew up in the neighborhood, is weighing how he and his wife can afford to stay in the district. He said there was little he could do to slow rising rents.

“Where I have to place much of my focus is on helping rent-regulated tenants stay in their apartment and exercise their rights,” said Mr. Kallos, a Democrat who has also pushed to set a height limit on so-called superscrapers in the neighborhoods he represents.

Austin Finan, a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said the administration’s top priority remained protecting affordable housing and building new units.

PhotoWorkers on Second Avenue between East 69th and East 70th Streets, completing work on the 72nd Street station. CreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

“We pursue that goal in every neighborhood in the city, including on the Upper East Side,” Mr. Finan said.

Across the United States, good transit access often leads to higher real estate prices, with home values near rapid transit in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix and San Francisco far outpacing other properties during the last recession, according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association.

Read more

Press Coverage
City Land
Thursday, December 29, 2016

The site for the skyscraper forms an L-shape, wrapping around several existing buildings and fronting both Third Avenue and 88th Street. Last year the developer carved out a lot measuring four by twenty-two feet on the development’s 88th Street front. Doing so allowed the owner to avoid strict zoning requirements, including height limits for narrow buildings between two low-rise buildings. The move also allowed the owner to designate space on the side facing 88th Street as a required rear yard, when in practice it would serve as an entrance to the skyscraper. The Department of Buildings approved the carve-out.

In May 2016, after construction had begun, the scheme came to the notice of Council Member Ben Kallos who, with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, requestedthat Buildings immediately stop construction at the site for a review. Together, they called the 88 square-foot lot “the smallest created in modern times” and “unbuildable” with “no legitimate purpose.” Buildings stopped construction at the site shortly after.

Working with the City, the developer proposed increasing the carved out lot to ten by twenty-two feet. On October 27, 2016, Buildings approved the increased size, stating that the agency considered the now larger lot “developable.”

Read more

Press Coverage
City Land

The site for the skyscraper forms an L-shape, wrapping around several existing buildings and fronting both Third Avenue and 88th Street. Last year the developer carved out a lot measuring four by twenty-two feet on the development’s 88th Street front. Doing so allowed the owner to avoid strict zoning requirements, including height limits for narrow buildings between two low-rise buildings. The move also allowed the owner to designate space on the side facing 88th Street as a required rear yard, when in practice it would serve as an entrance to the skyscraper. The Department of Buildings approved the carve-out.

In May 2016, after construction had begun, the scheme came to the notice of Council Member Ben Kallos who, with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, requestedthat Buildings immediately stop construction at the site for a review. Together, they called the 88 square-foot lot “the smallest created in modern times” and “unbuildable” with “no legitimate purpose.” Buildings stopped construction at the site shortly after.

Working with the City, the developer proposed increasing the carved out lot to ten by twenty-two feet. On October 27, 2016, Buildings approved the increased size, stating that the agency considered the now larger lot “developable.”

Read more

Newsletter

Happy New Year! Your gift for the holiday season and surviving nearly a decade of construction is a brand new Second Avenue Subway.

On Sunday January 22, I will be hosting my annual State of the District event with FREE reusable bags at Memorial Sloan Kettering and everyone is invited. At the State of the District, I will be discussing the busy year my office has had and highlighting some of the victories we have accomplished with our many community partners. RSVP to reserve your bag.

In December we continued to fight for responsible development. I introduced a bill aimed at fighting the proliferation of scaffolding by limiting how long it can be up without work being done or completed. The battle to rezone the Sutton area continued in December as the community and elected officials submitted the rezoning application to the City. As the property was sold at auction to the original lender, the race to rezone continues. At 180 East 88th Street we submitted a zoning challenge to force the developer to follow the zoning laws. We are even reclaiming public park land from a private use and need your opinion on what the park should look like.

As I continue to fight special interests I am proud to have passed laws to open up the deed restriction process and improve our campaign finance system by stopping public dollars from amplifying the voices of special interests doing business with the city so that public dollars only amplify the voices of voters like you.

Thank you all who attended the Holiday Party in early December, it was great seeing everyone at my district office. I hope to see many of you at my State of the District event on January 22. RSVP

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos
Council Member

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

January 22, 2017
1pm-3pm
State of the District Address

January 23, 2017
6:30-9:30pm
Trading the Sky Panel

January 26, 2017
2:30-5pm
Commercial Bike Safety Event

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

January 6
8am-10am
First Friday

January 10
6pm-7pm
Brainstorming With Ben

January 12
5pm-6pm
Landmarking and Land Use Clinic

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. INVITATION: State of the District with Free Bags
  2. Opening the Second Avenue Subway
  3. Campaign Finance Laws Passed
  4. Scaffolding Reform
  5. Traffic Cones
  6. Delivery Bike Safety
  7. 180 East 88th Street Construction Permit Challenged
  8. Sutton: Citation for Charles Fernandez
  9. Join Your Community Board

HOUSING AND ZONING

  1. Reforms to Stop BSA Variances from Neighborhood Plans
  2. Preventing the Next Rivington: Deed Restriction Reforms Signed into Law
  3. Unveiling Henderson Place District Marker
  4. Join Me for "Trading the Sky" Panel Discussion
  5. Land Use Clinic
  6. Mapping the Shadows of New York City
  7. Freinds of the Upper East Side Historic Districts 2017 Awards: A Call For Entries

ENVIRONMENT

  1. Opening the Queensboro Oval Under the 59th Street Bridge
  2. Cleaner Air From City Power Plants
  3. Con Edison Steam and Power Plant at East 74th Street

COMMUNITY

  1. Apply for Pre-K
  2. Help the Homeless by Counting Those in Need
  3. LifeSciNYC
  4. NYCEDC Works Toward Starting Life Sciences Incubators
  5. Proclamation for Sally Minard
  6. Tours for Schools
  7. Firefighter Raises Money for Upper East Side Fire Victims
  8. Night at the Opera
  9. Park NYC Roll Out
  10. E-Waste Event at the 92nd Street Y
  11. The Glass Room with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

OFFICE UPDATES

  1. Happy Holidays
  2. Remembering the Fallen at Pearl Harbor
  3. City Council Funding for Local Non-Profits
  4. Legislative Corner
  5. Free Legal Clinics
  6. Here to Help
  7. Mobile District Hours
  8. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS AND RESOURCES

  1. City Council Events
  2. Government Meetings
  3. Community Boards
  4. New York Police Department
  5. Neighborhood and Tenant Associations
  6. Community Events for Kids
  7. Community Events for Adults
  8. Resources Funded by My Office
Read more

Press Coverage

“They’re not writing judicial-style decisions that provide findings of fact or issues of law,” Ben Kallos, chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, told the NY Press.

Singer said that the BSA does not oppose this but argues that it already takes into consider community board recommendations already.

Other bills include extending the time frame in which developers or the community could appeal a decision rendered by the BSA from 30 days to four months. The Real Estate Board of New York, an influential trade organization that represents the real estate industry, is opposed to it, arguing it could unfairly delay a developer from starting construction. Such delays, the trade group argues, could be costly.

One of the bills would impose a $25,000 fine for a material false statement during the application process. Currently it is not illegal to make inaccurate statements or put forward incorrect drawings, Kallos told NYPress.

Read more

Press Coverage
Queens Chronicle
Friday, December 23, 2016

Sick of the Board of Standards and Appeals approving projects contrary to their wishes, members of Queens civic associations are highly supportive of a 10-bill package before the City Council to make the agency more transparent.

A hearing on the bills, some of which were introduced by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) this month and others of which were introduced before, was held on Dec. 14.

Some of the measures that stand out include a bill that would create a $25,000 fine for lying on an application; one that would require the agency to reference arguments made by community and borough boards and the City Planning Commission in its decisions; and another that would mandate the creation of a map showing locations where variances and special permits have been granted.

Read more