Updates

Press Release
Friday, April 21, 2017

New York, NY – Light pollution can harm wildlife and make it hard to stargaze let alone for New Yorkers to get a good night’s sleep. Under new legislation from Council Member Ben Kallos, street lights would be “fully shielded” to stop them from shining up into the sky or the windows of nearby residents, instead only illuminating the sidewalks and streets intended.

“New York City may be the city that ‘never sleeps’, but that shouldn’t be because of a street light outside your bedroom window. Fully shielded light fixtures will brighten up the day with fewer sleep deprived New Yorkers walking around in a bad mood,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Fully shielded light fixtures will reduce light pollution to conserve energy, protect wildlife, improve stargazing, and help New Yorkers get a good night’s sleep.”

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Press Release
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We are writing to strongly urge the Department of Education to take all feasible steps to provide pre-kindergarten seats in the community for all the four-year-olds living on the Upper East Side (59th to 96th Street) who applied for the 2017–2018 school year. We are deeply concerned that if the number of pre-kindergarten classes is not significantly increased, hundreds of families will be left without realistic options.

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Press Coverage
Gothamist
Friday, April 21, 2017

East Side Councilman Ben Kallos is planning to introduce a bill to cut down on light pollution by mandating that the city use light-directing fixtures when replacing streetlights.

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Press Coverage
Curbed
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

According to the audit, the vast majority of POPS hadn’t been inspected in four years—and if they had been, those inspections were regularly “late, incomplete, or ineffective.” In the last four years, only 58 locations had been inspected in total. Of those, 41 were found to be noncompliant. Of those, only 10 were issued violations.

But enforcement may be about to get a whole lot more stringent. In addition to the report’s recommendations—proactively investigate POPS, maintain a better database of them, install more and better signs around the plazas—three new bills were introduced in City Council last month. The bills, introduced by Council members Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick, are designed to protect POPS through steeper fines, annual inspections, increased signage, and a new website where people could register complaints.

 

 

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Thursday, April 20, 2017

Excerpt:

The City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, which has oversight of the CFB, is set to hear a bill on April 27 that would raise the cap on matching funds from 55 percent of the spending cap to a full match of the cap. The bill is sponsored by the committee’s chair, Council Member Ben Kallos, who is a participant in the public funds program and has spearheaded campaign finance reform in the Council. Kallos had reservations about some of the bills that were expedited through the Council late last year and believes his bill will significantly shift the election landscape.

“I was concerned with recent amendments and their impact on the campaign finance system,” he said, “and as we get closer to the June deadline for opting in or out of the system, we will learn just what impact that legislation had and whether it improves participation in the system or actually discourages it. And whatever the results, I hope to create new incentives for people to participate.” The CFB is reviewing Kallos’ proposal and will testify at the hearing.

Read the whole story at http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6882-city-council-members-opt-out-of-campaign-finance-program

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Press Release
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New York, NY – Tenants and advocates with the Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) Coalition will testify at a hearing today beginning at 10 AM for five of the twelve bills in the STS legislative package which aims to reform the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). The STS Coalition is a citywide alliance of grassroots tenant organizations and legal service groups collaborating with the Progressive Caucus and the eleven City Council prime sponsors to push for greater protection for tenants, especially in regards to the use of construction as harassment by landlords.

The five bills that will be heard at the Committee on Housing and Buildings hearing encompass:

·         Construction Task Force (Intro 0926): This bill would create a task force on construction work in occupied multiple dwellings.

·         Building Code Violations (Intro 0931): This bill would provide that building code violations adjudicated before Environmental Control Board would constitute tax liens on the property.

·         Tenant Protection Plans (Intro 0936):  This bill amends information required in tenant protection plans (TPP) and prescribes measures to ensure compliance with the TPP.

·         Permit Oversight (Intro 0938): This bill requires increased oversight of construction contractors who have engaged in work without a required permit.

·         Construction Bill of Rights (Intro 0960): This bill creates a safe construction bill of rights.

These bills together give tenants better protection from dangerous construction and help DOB to enforce already existing laws. Without these bills, unscrupulous landlords can use loopholes in the city’s enforcement to create hazardous construction conditions to push tenants out of their homes.

"Construction as harassment continues to be a huge problem in our communities. We are saying that enough is enough and calling on the administration to implement reforms to the Department of Buildings that will help to end this practice," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

"The Stand for Tenant Safety legislative package sets out to correct the behavior of the worst landlords, who will face the threat of foreclosure if they fail to fix long-ignored repairs," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "For too long some landlords and building owners have neither fixed reoccurring problems on their properties nor paid the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end."

"Tenant harassment, which often comes in the form of illegal or unscrupulous construction work, robs New Yorkers of their homes and exacerbates the city’s affordable housing crisis. This month, the City Council is reviewing several critical bills – collectively called Stand for Tenant Safety – designed to ensure that the Department of Buildings will prevent abusive construction work and serve New York City tenants, not just owners and contractors. The Stand for Tenant Safety bill package will ultimately make it easier to hold abusive landlords accountable and help tenants protect their homes,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Vice-Chair for Budget Advocacy of the Progressive Caucus.

“As the lead sponsors of another part of this vital DOB reform package, we are pleased that these five bills are moving forward,” said Council Members Margaret S. Chin and Carlos Menchacamembers of the Progressive Caucus, who jointly introduced Intro 918, a bill to fix a flawed inspection system favoring landlords at the expense of tenants. “Unfortunately, for far too many New Yorkers, the problem of tenant harassment and displacement by landlords is only getting worse. We are proud to join a growing number of Council colleagues, advocates and tenants to demand action to protect the quality of life of residents and to keep families in their homes.”

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Some of the projects the Council wants to see prioritized are air conditioning in public schools, moving adolescents off Rikers Island and funding the East River Esplanade project. Council Member Ben Kallos, in whose district most of the esplanade is located, said the problem is “bigger than anyone ever thought it was.”

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Press Release
Thursday, April 13, 2017

 Background: In partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Council Member Ben Kallos worked to bring the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for application to the Innovation Center’s Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Model to public health institutions throughout New York City.  STATEMENT:
 Even the best medical treatment offered here in New York City can’t succeed when patients can’t take care of themselves. For far too long, we’ve only focused on treating medical conditions, without treating the underlying causes in the community that lead to them.   Automatic Benefits legislation would require anyone applying or who qualifies for one human service benefits from the government to be screened for and provided with all other applicable benefits so that New Yorkers get not some but all of the help they need.
 
Thank you to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovations for investing in, encouraging, and studying what happens when you connect patients with community service providers to address their health-related social needs.
 
I am proud to represent New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) which was one of 32 organizations selected nationwide for Assistance and Alignment Tracks of the Accountable Health Communities Model. New York Presbyterian Hospital is on the Alignment Track to encourage partner alignment to ensure that community services are available and responsive to the needs of beneficiaries.  

 

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Press Release
Thursday, April 13, 2017

New York, NY - Fidel F. Del Valle, Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge of the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) and Council Member Ben Kallos kicked off OATH’s CourtESy (Court’s Education for Seniors) Program today at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, on the Upper East Side. Through the new CourtESy program, OATH aims to bring information about the hearing process directly to our City’s senior citizens. 

The forum explained what to do when a resident or property owner receives a summons and highlighted OATH’s Remote Hearing Methods, which give residents who received summons­es the ability to fight the tickets at their convenience and without having to travel to attend the OATH hearing in person.  “As the City’s central independent administrative law court, OATH’s top priority is to make it as easy as possible for those who have been issued summonses from City enforcement agencies to have their day in court,” said OATH Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge, Fidel F. Del Valle. “OATH recognizes that there are many reason why it may be difficult to attend a hearing in person so we have worked diligently to make it possible for recipients of the most commonly issued summonses to fight those summonses remotely by using OATH’s  Hearings Online, Hearings by Mail, Hearings by Phone or Video (webcam) Hearings.  Through our CourtESy program, OATH is working to make sure that the City’s senior residents know about these convenient hearing methods and how to utilize them effectively.” 

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch,NYC
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Then the neighborhood decided to take action into its own hands.

Late last year the East River 50s Alliance submitted a rezoning plan to the Department of City Planning that would cap building height at 260 feet in Sutton Place and convert the area into an Inclusionary Housing Designated Area, Mercurio told Patch.

The plan would preserve the context of the neighborhood while advancing Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing agenda, Mercurio said. Four local elected officials — City Councilman Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Kreuger and Borough President Gale Brewer — co-signed the rezoning application.

 

 

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Press Coverage
Curbed
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

To help compensate for the potential loss of height, the plan would allow a slight increase in maximum floor-area ratio (from 12 to 13), encouraging more building density in the area. And—the final tenet of the rezoning proposal—20 percent of new units would be required to be “dedicated to below-market-rate housing on site.”

So far, the Alliance’s rezoning proposal has some pretty big backers, DNAInfo reports. Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick have all said they’d sign off on the plan if it passes the Department of City Planning’s review process.

The Department of City Planning is expected to certify the Alliance’s application “in the next two weeks,” making way for a formal public review process.

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Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Monday, April 10, 2017

A Sutton Place community group working to curb supertalls in the neighborhood has formally submitted a rezoning proposal to the Department of City Planning. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick support the proposal.

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Press Coverage
City Land
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Intro No. 0931-2015, sponsored by Ben Kallos, would treat unpaid judgments rendered by the Environmental Control Board as tax liens on the property in question, which would potentially subject the building to the City’s tax-lien sale program.

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Newsletter

Thank you to the over 2,000 East Siders and Roosevelt Islanders who voted this March in Participatory Budgeting, contributing to the highest turnout we've had in four years. Results will be announced next month.

In March, the City Council begins the budget process with hearings on how the city plans to spend its money in the coming year. I've questioned how we are saving to prepare for potential cuts by Trump, the need for more school seats on the Upper East Side, the rising cost of waste transfer caused by marine transfer stations, and the need for additional funds to repair the East River Esplanade, many of which were included in the City Council's official budget response to the Mayor.

New York City faces a homelessness crisis with 22,973 children, 17,548 parents, and 13,913 single adults in shelters, and many more living on the street. Last year, I founded the East Side Taskforce on Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) to help the homeless in our community. This month I was proud to welcome new supportive housing for women and children with elected officials, community leaders, teachers, parents and even children from the schools across the street. One homeless individual who we believe suffers from mental illness drew renewed attention this month when a community member launched a petition. I have previously worked with the City's outreach teams to offer her mental health services, which she declined. After many complaints, a resident was willing to come forward, making an official complaint, and I personally went with this resident to the 19th Precinct leading to her arrest and her finally accepting both shelter and treatment. If you see someone in need, don't give them money, please call or use the 311 app and contact my office so we can help.

March was women’s history month, and I was proud to introduce a resolution in support of building a Women’s History Museum on the national mall in Washington, D.C. In April we will host an Earth Day event with free reusable bags where you can learn what you can do for a greener city. For children in grades five through eight, I am asking "What would you do as Council Member for A Day?"

Chag Pesach Sameach, Happy Easter, and enjoy the beginning of spring 

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

April 20, 6pm-8:30pm

Earth Day Event

April 27, 6pm
Bike Safety Class

April 29, 2pm-6pm
Spirit of Service Festival

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

April 7, 8am-10am
First Friday

Sincerely, 

P.S There will be no Brainstorming with Ben in April so that I may instead answer four questions at our annual Passover Seder.

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Press Release
Thursday, March 30, 2017

"The rent freezes have begun to correct decades of rent increases given to landlords even when there was no inflation year after year. New York's 1 million rent-stabilized tenants deserve the rent freezes after years of rent increases that outpaced the consumer price index," said Councilmember Ben Kallos.

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Press Release
Friday, March 31, 2017

NEW YORK, March 30, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following last week's construction accident that left a hoist dangerously dangling hundreds of feet in the air above thousands of passersby, today construction workers, elected officials, and community activists gathered at 200 E59th Street to call attention to this unsafe Gilbane job site and their subcontractor, Tradeoff, firing of a worker who requested a safety harness on the job.

"Thousands of lives were put at risk last week because Gilbane was more concerned about their bottom line than the safety of their workers and the community," said Mike Hellstrom, Director of Organizing of the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York. "Their work with Tradeoff on this job shows their lack of commitment to the workers they employ. Firing someone for requesting personal protective equipment on the job is not just wrong, it should be criminal."

Without stringent safety and training standards for construction workers in New York City, accidents of this kind and retaliatory firings will continue to happen and worker's lives will remain at risk. Activists today are urging the New York City Council to pass lifesaving legislation, Intro 1447, that would set safety and training standards for all construction workers in New York City.

 

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Press Coverage
Friday, March 31, 2017

He was caught on video hurling a table at a 46-year-old man on E. 81st St. at 3:38 p.m. March 18, police said. Sources said Uno was trying to scare the man.

Despite her notoriety, this is Barrionueva’s first arrest and she was released without bail.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side, said residents have complained about her for years.

“I’m hoping that between law enforcement and city agencies providing mental health (treatment), that she isn’t subject to jail,” Kallos said.

Uno was held on $2,500 bail.

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Press Release
Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thank you for reaching out with your concerns about a mentally ill woman on the Upper East Side. We share your compassion for her well-being and concern for the safety of those around her, and we want to advise you of our best options here.

As many of you have noted in your comments, she is suffering from a mental illness, and as a City and a community, we must do everything we can to get her the help that she needs. As you likely know, mental illness in itself is not a crime, but physical assault of any kind, including spitting on someone, is -- and it will not be tolerated.

 

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Kallos, who was one of several politicians to create the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) last year, said that until the woman is proven to be a harm to herself or others, he can't do anything about her.

"She's been brought to the hospital on numerous occasions and assessed by a psychiatrist," he told DNAinfo New York on Tuesday. "If anyone has been spat on, touched without consent, chased, or threatened, I will go with them personally to the 19th Precinct to swear out a complaint so that the city has additional resources to help her."

Kallos said he's successfully helped connect homeless New Yorkers with services in the past, and even sat down with the Department of Homeless Services last October to go through a list of local homeless people one by one to see what kind of services they needed. 

"We've had success in some places, but there are some folks we haven't seen recently because people have accepted help, or found help on their own," he said. "The worst case is that they just disappear and we don't know what happened to them."

Kallos noted that the Upper East Side is very dense, so when there is one person singing or screaming, it's bound to impact thousands of people and amplify the the problem.

"We have been putting immense pressure on this administration to address the homeless concerns in this community and we have asked them to use every tool [they have]," he said.

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

One of Manhattan’s busiest — and slowest — bus routes will soon join the growing list of select bus services (SBS). The M79 crosstown bus, which serves more than 14,000 riders each day, is expected to make the change in service later this May. The select service will require riders to pay at kiosks on the sidewalk before boarding the bus, in an attempt to cut down on time spent idling and improve the route’s 4.3 mph average speed. Signs with real-time arrival information will also be installed at each stop. The annual operating budget is expected to be approximately $1.73 million, according to the January 2017 MTA Transit and Bus Committee meeting handbook.

Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, personally requested that the service be implemented.

“Our crosstown buses serve tens of thousands of passengers a day and it makes a huge difference and cuts a lot of time off people’s commutes,” he said. “On 79th Street I, like many residents, have had to wait in lines around the block to get on the bus and I’ve often found that when the lines get that long it’s faster to just walk where I’m going instead of waiting for the bus.”

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Press Release
Monday, March 27, 2017

New York, NY – The cost of trash in New York City is soaring from $63.39 a ton in 2007 to $129.81 a ton in 2016. . Overall city spending on 

waste export is increasing from an average of $300 million from 2010 to 2014 to $360 million this year to $420 million in 2021. Driving the increased spending is the long-term contracts for four Marine Transfer Stations three of which are slated to begin operations in 2018 and 2019. Both are according to a new report by the New York City Independent Budget Office.

“New York City is throwing money in the trash by continuing to build marine transfer stations. The City should save hundreds of millions of dollars a year by continuing to send all residential waste from Manhattan directly to New Jersey by truck instead of by barge through Staten Island,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.

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