New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

Law to Protect New York City Children Boarding School Buses with Stop-Arm Cameras Passes City Council

Thursday, December 9, 2021

New York, NY - Looking to protect children on their way to and from school, the New York City Council passed a law by Council Member Ben Kallos that will  make New York City the largest school district in the nation to install stop-arm cameras on its fleet of 10,000 school buses. These stop-arm cameras will catch reckless drivers who endanger students by illegally passing school buses during drop off and pickup.

Council Passes Legislation Mandating City to Regularly Update MWBE Tracking Data Affecting Millions in City Contracts

Thursday, December 9, 2021

NEW YORK, NY – At this week’s Stated Meeting, the New York City Council plans to pass Int. 1624, requiring key data points already tracked by regularly researched disparities studies governing Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises procurement  to be updated in real-time. Impacted communities will no longer need to wait years to find relief with out-of-date data having an impact on millions in city contracts.


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff today joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Ben Kallos, Community Board 8 Parks and Recreation Committee Co-Chair Barry Schneider, and community members to break ground on improvements to the sitting area in John Jay Park on the Upper East Side. 

“John Jay Park is a neighborhood gem, and this reconstruction will make it even better with a greener and more vibrant sitting area,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff. “Thanks to funding from Council Member Kallos, the new and improved sitting area will better serve as a community gathering space and make an enormous difference in the lives of Upper East Siders who enjoy the park daily.”  

John Jay Park’s sitting area will be completely renovated to provide a more welcoming space for the community. The project will transform the space with new pavement, benches, and drainage, and expand the amount of green space by converting asphalt areas to plant beds. Construction completion is anticipated for Fall 2022.  

The $650,000 project was fully funded by Council Member Ben Kallos. 

“I commend Council Member Kallos and Commissioner Fialkoff on today’s ground breaking to provide improvements to the sitting area in John Jay Park,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m looking forward to enjoying this space and its amenities when construction is completed next year.” 

“The sound of shovels hitting the ground on this project is music to my ears,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “John Jay Park is a beloved piece of our neighborhood, and the $650,000 I allocated for a reconstruction of the pavement and the addition of new benches, drainage and expanded space for new plantings will make this park even more appealing to visitors. Thank you to the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, especially its founder Betty Cooper Wallerstein, and to all the residents who participated in coming up with the improvements and to the Department of Parks & Recreation for doing a great job in design and getting us to this groundbreaking.”   

Situated on the East River, John Jay Park is named for New York jurist and statesman John Jay (1745-1829). The site’s pool opened between 1940 and 1942 as part of a Work Projects Administration (WPA) project. The park also features a large open area for basketball, tennis, and handball courts, a playground that was fully renovated in 2011, and two welded steel sculptures by artist Douglas Abdell.  

Completion of $1.75 Million Green Roof Project for PS/IS 217 Celebrated By Local Elected Officials & Community Members

Monday, November 29, 2021

Roosevelt Island, New York, NY – Students at PS/IS 217 have a new educational green space on their roof, thanks to funding from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Ben Kallos, and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. Today they celebrated completion of the project, including a ceremonial planting.

$1 million in funding for this project comes from Council Member Ben Kallos, which was allocated from participatory budgeting that the school won in 2015 and 2016 thanks to the advocacy of the Roosevelt Island Community. Borough President Brewer funded $250,000 and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright contributed $500,000 to the project.

To win funding through participatory budgeting, the whole Roosevelt Island community worked together to turn out a winning number of votes. Community members that advocated for the project include the PS/IS 217 PTA, Girl Scout Troops 3001 and 3244, Roosevelt Island Garden Club, Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network, Sharon Bermon from the NYPL Roosevelt Island Branch, and community activist Christina Delfico.

“STEM education is a vital part of shaping our future generation of leaders,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I am excited to celebrate the completion of PS/IS 217’s green roof, which will provide students with the opportunity to play and learn in new ways. I look forward to seeing all that the school is able to accomplish with this space.”

“I am thrilled to be here at the opening of the new educational green roof at PS/IS 217,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “Giving the next generation of leaders the tools to excel in STEM starts in the classroom, and I am proud that our City schools are at the cutting edge of ensuring just that. I thank Councilmember Kallos, Borough President Brewer, and Assemblywoman Seawright for our ongoing partnership in ensuring New York City’s students are at the forefront of learning.”

“I’m excited to be able to celebrate the completion of the green roof at PS/IS 217, a project that will provide educational space to learn about the importance of protecting our environment,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I know that this space will benefit students for years to come by acting as a learning hub for 21st century skills and advancing scientific and environmental knowledge, in addition to supporting our city’s climate resiliency efforts by keeping the roof cooler, acting as an insulator, saving heating and cooling costs, helping to protect the school from environmental wear and tear, as well as reduce noise.”

“As a member of the Assembly Education Committee, proud public school parent and former PTA activist, I was please to award PS/IS 217 on Roosevelt Island with $500,000 for the creation of a Green Roof and construction of a STEM learning Hub. Our students deserve a safe place to learn and play. I commend Principal Mandana Beckman, school leadership, and PTA for seeing this through for the benefit of students and educations at PS/IS 217,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.

“This green roof provides flexible outdoor classroom space for educational gardening, theater and performing arts, and general student education, and recreation,” SCA President and CEO Nina Kubota said. “It’s a great example of the SCA’s steadfast commitment to provide enhanced educational services and better facilities for the City’s kids and the teachers and staff who serve them.”

“So many people had a small role in making a big impact,” says local sustainability advocate Christina Delfico. “This roof top project proves that community, schools, and government can create a sea of wide open green space to excite students in every subject of learning.”

PS/IS 217 is a New York Public School on Roosevelt Island located at 645 Main St, New York, NY 10044.

$2.5 Million Roof Project for Yorkville Community School Announced By Local Elected Officials

Monday, November 22, 2021

Upper East Side, New York, NY – Students at Yorkville Community School (YCS) will soon have a new $2.5 million outdoor play space on their roof. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Council Member Ben Kallos, and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright announced today that construction started during the pandemic and will be completed next year. The students at YCS do not have an outdoor play space, and this project will give them a safe place to learn and play. 

$1.2 million in funding for this project comes from Council Member Ben Kallos, $500,000 of which was allocated from participatory budgeting, which the school won in 2015 thanks to the advocacy of the student and parent community. Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright contributed $125,000 to the project. The remaining funding was carried over from a previous capital project.

“As a parent in New York City, I understand the need for more green spaces for our children to run and play safely,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “That is why as a Council Member I have prioritized building green and play roofs and gymnasiums for our students. I am excited for students at YCS to have a safe space to get exercise and sunlight during the school day.”

“We are more than excited to have this new rooftop playground. Thanks to our elected officials and our community, it is coming to fruition. We are maximizing space and creating more outdoor play spaces for our children. They deserve this,” said Yorkville Community School Principal Samantha Kaplan.

“I am thrilled to join with Council Member Kallos in breaking ground on the PS 151,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “The COVID-19 crisis made it clear just how important outdoor spaces are for New Yorkers stuck indoors. This new roof will provide an oasis for the students to play and be outdoors. I can’t wait to see the project come to completion next year.”

“As a member of the Assembly Education Committee, proud public school parents and former PTA activist I was please to award PS151 Yorkville Community School with $125,000 for the construction of a rooftop play space and garden. Our students deserve a safe space to learn and play. I commend Principal Samantha Kaplan, school leadership, and PTA for seeing this through for the Yorkville Community School community,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.

New $1.4 Million Maker Space and Dance Studio Project for East Side Middle School Announced By Council Member Ben Kallos

Monday, November 15, 2021

Upper East Side, New York, NY – A new “maker space” will be a haven for creative kids at East Side Middle School, thanks to funding from Council Member Ben Kallos. The design for the space was unveiled today, and among its features are a digital fabrication center, an art classroom, and a computer lab. The space will be utilized for art classes and other creative opportunities for the students at East Side Middle, who will also be getting a new dance studio as part of the $1.4 million project.

The funding for this public-school project comes from Council Member Ben Kallos. $500,000 will go to converting a section of a library into the maker space and $937,000 will turn a basement area into an art studio.

“The talented students at East Side Middle School are going to have new opportunities to explore their interests and exercise their creativity with the maker space and dance studio,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “When I was in school, my favorite part was learning about how technology works hands on, and I wish I had something like this maker space. The students at East Side Middle School never cease to amaze me, and I can’t wait to see how they use these new spaces.”

East Side Middle School (MS 114) is a New York City public school located at 331 East 91st Street. Their mission statement includes: “We are also driven to create a school environment in which our students can pursue their talents and dreams and ambitions, their ‘element.’"

Statement at Full Council Vote on NY Blood Center and Longfellow Real Estate Rezoning

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The fight over the new Blood Center building was never about blood. It has been about two other issues: How high should the center’s for-profit partner Longfellow Development’s commercial offices tower over a residential neighborhood, and member deference.

Despite us not yet having reached a deal I could support, the Land Use Committee voted to approve a modified version of the project, which would be built in the district I represent. To pave the way for this vote, which bucked “member deference,” much was done to paint me as an unreasonable NIMBY and the blood supply as at risk.

My Community Board and I have never opposed a rezoning before. In fact we voted Yes In My Back Yard to a homeless shelter three blocks from where I live and multiple rezonings, including a four-city-block-long life sciences project at Rockefeller University and expanding Hospital for Special Surgery. We cut the ribbon on the Belfer Research Tower, Memorial Sloan Kettering Tower at 74th Street, and acres of space for Cornell Tech. We are building two new towers for the Hospital for Special Surgery on 79th Street and at 71st Street over the FDR Drive.

I have always been willing to build the Blood Center a new building and our blood supply has never been at risk, because they are only permitted by the FDA to test and distribute blood from its complexes in Long Island City just over a mile away and on Long Island — not from the Upper East Side. These sites are part of a vast network of buildings that allows the Blood Center to compete with the Red Cross across 17 states.

STATEMENT: Council Member Kallos on New York Blood Center Rezoning.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

During my time in office, I have been proud to support the expansion of the life-science sector in my district. 

I negotiated a 3 city block expansion of the Rockefeller University campus over the FDR Drive which has resulted in $50 million investment in a crumbling waterfront. I also helped secure $9 million to open a new biotech incubator we first thought of back on New Years Day 2014. I cut the ribbon on the Cornell Tech campus, the Belfer Research Building. We opened a new Memorial Sloan Kettering vertical campus on 74th Street, are expanding HSS over the FDR with a new 30-story medical tower on 79th Street and 1st Avenue, and a newly announced hospital building on 74th Street. Just to name a few and that’s not an exhaustive list. Each project involved working closely with the community whether as-of-right or through a discretionary process.

From the beginning of this process, we have agreed that we have an important opportunity to update and upgrade the New York Blood Center so it can continue to be a vital asset to our city. I have believed that the best way to achieve this vision would be through a significantly modified building from the Commercial Office Tower that the Blood Center proposed.

The developers made the unprecedented choice to skip working with the local community board, elected officials, and instead put all their efforts into overturning “member deference” now and forever.

This is the first rezoning where no changes were made at the Community Board or for the Borough President. The first change was offered at the first and only Zoning hearing just last month where more than one hundred residents came out in opposition, along with every single elected official Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. 

After more than five separate requests, the developer finally came to the table this Monday. Only after skipping a meeting in the afternoon, did they show up to meet in the evening. We had two more meetings on Tuesday evening. In a Council where land-use projects are often negotiated to the last moment, the developer once again refused to negotiate. We had more conversations in 36 hours than we did in the preceding 36 months.

We came close to a win-win for both sides, but we haven’t gotten there. There remain modest changes to this building, moving a 30-foot mechanical void to the roof, lowering extra luxury 20-foot ceiling heights to something more reasonable, and a contextual height limit to protect against a 500-foot tower that can now be built as-of-right, all of which would have zero programmatic impact on the Blood Center and its partners while getting us to a building that would work for my constituents.

Ultimately, these remaining changes were rejected, and I have to vote “no” on this proposal.

Today’s outcome sets a troubling precedent for council members’ ability to win for the city and their constituents. With today’s vote, we become a City where real estate developers are only emboldened to sidestep the concerns of the communities in which they build.

The longstanding tradition of “member deference,” has been in place to give New Yorkers in 51 council districts across 5 boroughs a voice at the table with the developers who seek to reshape their neighborhoods. 

Thanks to a rarely invoked Charter 200(a)(3) protest filed by buildings included in this spot zoning, when this project comes to a vote of the full council, it will require a ¾ supermajority to pass. I urge my colleagues to consider the precedent we are setting and vote with their conscience. As I have said before, and I will say again, no matter the outcome of the vote, we will work with the Blood Center to build a new modern facility.

Statement on the Expansion of Retirement Security for All of New York State

Friday, October 22, 2021

Statement on the Expansion of Retirement Security for All of New York State

Council Member Ben Kallos is the author of the Retirement Security for All law covering New York City.

"After more than a decade of fighting for workers to have a right to retire, every worker in New York State will have access to a retirement account. Whether through a plan their employer already offers or when they get automatically enrolled in the Secure Choice plan just signed into law.

"When Governor Cuomo adopted 'Secure Choice' in the 2018 budget, it didn't include auto-enrollment, and it was no surprise that with fierce opposition from an industry filled with his donors, that even years later it was never implemented.

"When we passed my 'Retirement Security for All' law for New York City workers, we included the provision that if the state did the right thing our plan would sunset. After all, this is about helping as many New Yorkers as possible.

"Thank you to Kathy Hochul, it is refreshing to have a Governor who cares more about people than Wall Street. A special thank you to Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez who has been fighting for this program for years.

"The bottom line is this law is going to help lift the next generation of workers and their families out of poverty as they are able to save, and see their savings grow, and one day retire."


Statement on Expansion of Retirement Security for All from New York City to All of New York State

Friday, October 22, 2021

Council Member Ben Kallos, is the author of the Retirement Security for All law covering New York City.

"After more than a decade of fighting for workers to have a right to retire, every worker in New York State will have access to a retirement account. Whether through a plan their employer already offers or when they get automatically enrolled in the Secure Choice plan just signed into law.

"When Governor Cuomo adopted 'Secure Choice' in the 2018 budget, it didn't include auto-enrollment, and it was no surprise that with fierce opposition from an industry filled with his donors, that years later it never got implemented.

"When we passed my 'Retirement Security for All' law for New York City workers, we included the provision that if the state did the right thing our plan would sunset. After all, this is about helping as many New Yorkers as possible.

"Thank you to Kathy Hochul, it is nice to have a Governor who cares more about people than Wall Street. A special thank you to Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez who has been fighting for this program for years.

"The bottom line is that this law is going to help lift the next generation of workers and their families out of poverty as they are able to not only save, but see their savings grow, and one day retire.

STATEMENT: Council Member Ben Kallos on the Passage of Urban Agriculture Legislation (Office of Urban Agriculture)

Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Pandemic has shown us how fragile our food network is.

Whether it was food shortages, toilet paper, paper towels, or groceries whose prices who haven’t gone down.

New York City must have a sustainable food supply.

More and more we are seeing that the future of agriculture is Urban.

That is why today we are establishing an Office of Urban Agriculture to work with existing commercial urban farms, expand them, and remove barriers to entry across agencies through the lens of social and economic justice.

The office will work with NYCHA’s building health communities to build farms on public housing land to offer our lowest income New Yorkers access to healthy food and economic opportunity.

Supporting our vast network of community gardens. Not to mention expanding Grow to Learn, from a current 725 schools, throughout the city.

In my own district, we’ve worked with Grow NYC to bring planters and urban agriculture to every school in the neighborhood.

All of this comes after years of work, starting with Speaker Corey Johnson who proposed the advisory board that will also be implemented by this legislation. There will be representation from organizations focusing on climate, restorative, and social justice, with representation from youth whose voices have been leading this fight.

Council Member Rafael Espinal and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams invested $2 million in partnership with EDC to build out Urban Agriculture in Brooklyn and originally introduced this legislation to bring it citywide.

I went to public high school in the Bronx on the same block as Dewitt Clinton which now boasts a student-built 1,300 square foot hydroponic farm. Through Teens for Food Justice, I met students who have harvested 25,000 pounds of produce have been harvested. Most of it has shown up in their school lunch, 30-60 pounds donated to local food pantries, and some is still left over to sell at farmers markets.

This isn’t the only program, and we need more. Int. 1663 will create the office of Urban Agriculture and its Advisory Board to get that done!

Thank you Speaker Corey Johnson, Rafeal Espinal, Borough President Adams, and the Economic Development Committee staff including Counsel Alex Paulenoff.

will include important voices from organizations that promote urban agriculture and focus on issues, such as climate, restorative and social justice,as well as restaurant industry, policy experts, promoting diversity including age --a Youth rep

----facilitate cooperation between the office of food policy, department of parks and recreation, department of city planning and other agencies such as NYCHA and DOE.

Internet Could Come Free with Every Apartment in New York City Under Legislation Proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos

Thursday, October 7, 2021

New York, NY – Internet could be coming to New York City residents with their apartment like heat, hot water, electricity, and phone utilities under new legislation proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos. 500,000 households in New York City still have no Internet access with recent findings of a link between Internet Access and vaccinations. Under the proposal all new construction in New York City would have to be wired for Internet, with all existing housing providing broadband Internet to tenants for free within 3 years.
“Every New York City apartment comes with heat, hot water, electricity, and a phone line. It’s time to add Internet, so it is there and just works when a tenant moves in,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We can finally end the digital divide and bridge the homework gap by making sure every apartment in New York City comes with Internet. You can’t get a vaccine if you can’t get online to schedule or even find an appointment, this pandemic has shown that the Internet is now a necessity.”
Half a million New Yorkers still have no Internet in their homes. Two of the worst neighborhoods for Internet connectivity are Borough Park Brooklyn (CB12) where one-third of households and East Harlem (CB11) where one-quarter of households have no Internet. A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control found that “COVID-19 vaccination was significantly associated with household internet access in New York City at the zip code level.”

Millions of “Flex” Rooms Could Be Added to New York City Apartments by New Legislation from Council Member Ben Kallos

Thursday, September 23, 2021

New York, NY – Amidst an affordable housing crisis, with too many studios and one-bedroom apartments, New Yorkers resort to putting up “temporary” or “pressurized” walls to illegally subdivide apartments in order to offer children privacy or add roommates to cover skyrocketing rents. These “Flex Apartments'' are so common that there are thousands of units listed on StreetEasy as “1-bedroom flex 2.” Council Member Ben Kallos, a lifelong tenant, has lived in numerous apartments with these illegal walls installed by previous tenants and even landlords, and is proposing legislation to make these ubiquitous temporary walls legal to make it easier for families and New Yorkers.
“No one can afford to live in New York City, but adding a temporary wall can really help split the rent or add a room for a new baby so parents like me can get a good night’s sleep, and maybe some privacy with my wife,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “It’s ridiculous that these temporary walls are illegal, they are literally everywhere, and they aren’t going anywhere. Making these walls legal and getting them registered means first responders will actually know when and where to expect these walls and it will save lives.”

$20 Billion in City Government Spending Could Be Found Easily Online Under New Legislation Proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos  

Thursday, September 23, 2021

New York, NY – New York City’s spends $20 billion on contracts for City goods and services. However, most of the details regarding the solicitation, awarding, and spending are hidden behind a set of Byzantine systems that frustrate transparency and impede competition in public procurement. New legislation introduced by Council Member and Chair of the Contracts Committee, Ben Kallos, will adopt open contracting standards by creating one searchable database where anyone can find all the aggregated data around procurement. This bill would further promote transparency, streamline the procurement process, and increase competitiveness in public procurement. 
“Taxpayers have a right to know how every penny is spent, from pencils to school buses, and this legislation will make it easier to see where and how the city is spending their hard earned money,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Contracts.

$20 Billion in New York City Spending Directed to Save the Environment by New Law

Friday, September 24, 2021

During Climate Week the New York City Council passed legislation to overhaul an outdated Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program that will direct $20 billion in city spending to save the environment. The program originally authored by Mayor Bill de Blasio as a Council Member in 2005 was never followed by his administration, which still included references to outdated VHS and cassette tapes, mini-discs, and answering machines. The laws authored by Contracts Chair Ben Kallos adopt new environmental goals, expands coverage to more contracts, and adds new major categories such as furniture and textiles.

Tens of Billions of Dollars in New York City Spending Are Now Required to Focus on Environmental Impacts Under a New Law Passed Today

Thursday, September 23, 2021


The New Environmental Procurement Laws Focus on Waste Reduction and Highlight Textiles

New York, NY – Today New York City passed legislation updating the City's Environmental Preferential Purchasing Program (EPP). The proposed changes affect some $20 billion in spending and reform a program that has not been overhauled in 16 years. With ambitious goals that are responsive to our climate emergency, the legislation authored by Council Member Ben Kallos adopts the toughest standards for electronics and furniture that the City purchases. It also overhauls environmental goals and launches a task force on the textiles bought by the City of New York.

“We are in the midst of a climate emergency therefore, New York City government has a responsibility to make sure that every penny of our $94 billion budget that is going to the private sector puts the environment first,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, author of New York City’s declaration of a climate emergency. “This legislation has the potential to make New York City an example to the rest of the world on how major cities can use their economic might to help the environment. Thank you to Speaker Johson for working with me on this and being committed to getting it passed.”
In 2005, New York City adopted EPP to minimize the environmental impact of municipal government in its role as a consumer. The original law, which set forth strong environmental standards at the time, was not updated through biannual issuance of regulations as originally intended, leaving the city decades behind other states and even the Federal Government.
Int. 2271-A  will:

  • Adopt Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) – electronics would be assessed based on their effect on the environment receiving rankings of Gold, Silver, or Bronze, under the EPEAT program managed by the Green Electronics Council. This is the highest standard adopted by the Federal government in 2007, Amazon in 2010, and available in 43 countries. The legislation would also require power management software by activated on all city systems where it available.
  • More Ambitious Standards – the city would promulgate rules adding new environmental purchasing standards and overhaul others:
    • Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions (replacing “Decreasing”)
    • Eliminate Reliance on Virgin Materials (New)
    • Eliminate Reliance on Hazardous Substances (replacing “Reduce”)
    • Improve Outdoor Air Quality (New)
    • Reduce the Negative Effects and Generate Positive Effects for Environment (New)
    • Additional standards that would remain: conserve energy and water, increase use of recycled and reused materials, improve indoor air quality, and promote end-of-line management.
  • Prohibit the Purchase of Halogen Lamps (expansion from incandescent)
  • Adding Furniture to Environmental Purchasing

 Any contract that did not follow EPP would was required to consider the life-cycle cost-effectiveness, which would now be required to be submitted to the Director of Environmental Purchasing prior to awarding the contract. Reporting would be required annually, with all waivers and reports made public by posting them online.
Int. 2272-A would establish a taskforce to research and consider other social costs associated with the production of textiles, including the nature of labor conditions along the supply chain. And reporting on:

  • whether such textiles are recycled or organic in whole or in part;
  • source and supply chain for textiles;
  • value of contracts for textile;
  • length of use of textiles; and
  • disposal.

Textiles are some of the most reusable items in the waste stream and yet they continue to be sent to landfills. Fashion and garment companies across the world – including H&M, Stella McCartney, and Burburry – are committing to moving the industry towards circularity, whether that be by taking responsibility for their products, after customers have finished using them, or by only using materials that can be fully broken down and re-manufactured into new items. As a key player in the international garment industry, New York City is uniquely positioned to lead this important environmental change.

Automated Noise Enforcement Proposed by New York City Council Member Ben Kallos to Take on Roving Motor Cycle Gangs, Blasting Music, and Vehicular Noise

Thursday, August 26, 2021

New York, NY – As New Yorkers drift towards slumber each night they can expect a rich cacophony of noises that keep them up each night, from cars blasting bass that shakes windows as they drive by, to motorists leaning into their horn out of anger, to roving motorcycle gangs revving engines amplified by straight exhaust pipes as they speed down sidewalks, even trucks using a jake brake that makes the Home Improvement “Argh, Argh, Argh” as they slow for a red light. The noise wouldn’t be so bad on a highway, park, or distant vista, but it’s happening in neighborhoods across the all five boroughs that have become destinations to drive through with buildings that are 6, 12, and even 30 stories tall housing thousands of New Yorkers. NYPD’s no chase policy has left these annoyances uncurbed. According to data crunched by BetaNYC between Aug 1 2019 to Aug 1, 2020, there were 61,493 noise complaints related to vehicles. From Aug 1, 2020, to Aug 1, 2021, there were 99,621.
New Yorkers have had enough and have come out to meetings with elected officials demanding they do something about it. Council Member Ben Kallos are answering the call with new legislation for automated noise enforcement using video cameras and microphone triangulation to catch the booming vehicles and mailing violations of up to $1,575.
“As a new parent these assholes drive by waking up my daughter after we just finished our nighttime routine and then I don’t know how I am going to get her to sleep,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “When I hear the revving from these roving motorcycle gangs barreling down the streets who often ride up on sidewalks, I frantically grab my daughter and find somewhere we might be safe, like by a streetlight pole where they can’t hit us, and I think to myself, ‘this can’t be normal, right?’”
Major cities around the world and other states have moved forward with automated enforcement including in California, United Kingdom, Austria, France, Switzerland, and Canada. Technology has advanced to a point where noise can be isolated to individual vehicles in moving traffic.

Millions Going Directly Back in Taxpayers Pockets Will Be Here to Stay Under Proposal from Finance Chair Dromm and Council Member Kallos

Thursday, July 29, 2021

New York, NY – With thousands of New Yorkers relieved from millions in unfair tax burdens utilizing the help of the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate (OTA), the City Council is looking to ensure this vital work continues.  With the goal of enabling a long term option for New Yorkers seeking guidance and justice with tax issues, Council Member Ben Kallos joins Finance Chair Danny Dromm introducing legislation that will make the office permanent through statutory revision of the city charter.

Established in 2015 as an advocacy and service arm of the the New York City Department of Finance by Director Jacques Jiha, OTA has assisted New Yorkers for 6 years  Passage of this legislation would make New York join Washington D.C. the first cities in the country to codify such an office, joining a number of states and a federal office.

The office has reported on significant results for New York City homeowners, businesses and non-profits. 

Since April 1, 2016, OTA intervention has resulted in $15,633,506 in refunds, $22,687,936 in abatements, plus $22,709,531 in corrections, for a total of $61,030,973 in funds returned to taxpayers as of tax year 2020-21.

The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate provides a venue for independence, impartiality and confidentiality for New Yorkers seeking tax relief and currently employs advocates that listen to the taxpayer’s position, leading to investigation, evaluation, advocacy for changes supported by procedure or law, requests that the Department of Finance to take a second look, and advisement for the taxpayer for next steps.  After an opportunity to evaluate the work of the office for 6 years, the legislation establishes that the office is worth keeping in place, looking to ensure its continued existence as an official municipal office governed by the City’s Department of Finance.

The office allows New Yorkers to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and provide direct assistance when complex issues arise especially involving the real property tax system. Based on community input, the office is able to identify and recommend solutions for systemic issues within the agency that cause difficulties to taxpayers, providing an invaluable resource to policy makers and other stakeholders. This independent evaluation of agency operations can be a gamechanger in identifying larger scale bottlenecks and inefficiencies, leading to better long term tax policy.

“It’s a no brainer that we need this office to be permanent in our City. Too many New Yorkers are often spread thin financially due to the high cost of living in our City. The office of the Taxpayer Advocate is literally saving homeowners from getting into debt or falling behind on taxes by advocating for them successfully, “said Council Member Ben Kallos. “New York City residents cannot afford for a future mayor to do away with this office on a whim to save money. So the best way to prevent that is put it in the law.”


New York City Seeking “Right of First Refusal” on Large Real Estate Transfers to Build Schools, Firehouses, and Vital Municipal Infrastructure Under Legislation by Council Member Kallos

Thursday, July 29, 2021

New York, NY – Legislation introduced today (Int 2363) by Council Member Kallos would ask real estate developers to inform the city when they are transferring property on lots over 20,000 square feet. City agencies would then be required to respond within a month with notice to the public so they can get their services built.
Even with the pandemic, New York City’s population is still growing as essential city services struggle to keep up due to difficulty finding a place to build in a city that’s largely already built.
Vital infrastructure is necessary to support a growing city where schools are overcrowded and firehouses struggle to cover more and more residents.
In 2018, Council Member Ben Kallos secured $92 million to build 824 new school seats by 2024 with no location secured as of 2021 with dozens of new luxury towers keep going up without them.
“New York City is already built so there isn’t really vacant land where you can just build a new school.  Right now, the city has to buy existing buildings to build what residents need, which can be tough in the most competitive real estate market in the world. By the time I read about a big real estate deal in the paper and call the developer to beg for a school, it’s already too late, and my community is desperate for school seats,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Elected officials ask agencies to build new schools and facilities all the time, but we never know what’s going or even what’s in play till it is too late. This legislation would put the city in the loop on big real estate transactions, force city agencies to share whether they see a need as well as whether they even tried to make a deal, and lets residents know what happened. In Manhattan, the city won’t actually need to buy all of the land, it will just need to be a part of the transaction to build a public-private partnership with municipal facilities in the base and the housing we need above.”