Updates

Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The new datasets released in the update include NYPD complaint data on felonies, misdemeanors and violent crimes reported between 2006 and 2016; details of City Council participatory budgeting projects from 2012 onwards; data on the programs, benefits and resources for 40 health and human services available to New Yorkers; and a Department of City Planning database of more than 35,000 records on public and private facilities from 50 sources. Other new aspects of the program include legal mandates for compliance with FOIL requests and on timing of responses to data requests.

Though FOIL requests involving data are being streamlined, City Council Member Ben Kallos, a longtime advocate of open data, thinks that it can be improved further by passing his “Open FOIL” bill, which would create “one searchable database of Freedom of Information Law requests sent to city agencies.” Kallos also believes that the city could do more outreach about the existence of the open data initiative.

"The City is getting better and better at getting the word out about Open Data,” Kallos told Gotham Gazette. “I for one want to see Open Data classes taught at our city libraries so anyone can learn how to use the data sets, not just techies." Indeed, while many data sets are available, they aren’t always easy to digest or utilize to find patterns or other takeaways.

Read more


Press Coverage
Queens Gazette
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Noise is the number one complaint in New York City, but to NYC Councilman Ben Kallos and NYC Council Environmental Chair Costa Constantinides it doesn’t need to be a fact of life in the Big Apple. Kallos and Constantinides introduced legislation in June to be heard in the fall that would require the city to respond to noise complaints for nightlife and construction within two hours or on a subsequent day within an hour of the time of the complaint. The bill aims to increase the likelihood that inspectors will identify the source of the noise, issue a violation, and restore quiet.

“Noise is such a big problem that it might be better to call us ‘Noise’ York City. If 311 is any indication, residents are tired of all the noise, and it is time we did something about it,” said Councilman Kallos. “It is hard to imagine a government of the people for the people ignoring the people’s top complaint and expecting them to be happy living here. I am disappointed by recent reports that the city is actually doing less to quiet noise as complaints rise. We as a city need to take this problem seriously, take it head on without excuses, and give every New Yorker the peace and quiet they need.”

“The nuisance that bothers New Yorkers most is loud noises, however, it could take days for agencies to respond to noise complaints. By that time, a violation would unlikely be issued.  That's why we're introducing this legislation that would require the city to respond to noise complaints within two hours. New Yorkers deserve a responsive government and noise-free neighborhoods. Thank you to my colleague Council Member Ben Kallos for leading the way on this quality-of-life issue,” said Environmental Committee Chair Constantinides.

Read more


Press Release
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

NEW YORK—The Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications today released the annual update to the NYC Open Data Plan, a schedule of public datasets City agencies plan to release through 2018. Over the last year, agencies have released datasets across hundreds of categories, from the number of trees planted to FDNY incident dispatch numbers. The annual update is part of Open Data for All, a strategic overhaul around how the City collects and reports data to New Yorkers, with a focus on helping as many New Yorkers as possible view, understand, and engage with information that describes how government is helping them live, work, and play.

"Open Data empowers residents with data they need to learn about city services first hand and is an invaluable tool for elected officials like me to analyze and oversee how our city delivers services,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “In particular, I’m excited to see the inclusion of the Programs and Benefits API. Residents can now get the help they need from a list of benefits available, who qualifies and how to apply. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and DoITT Commissioner Anne Roest for continuing to make New York City more transparent with each new data set."

 

Read more


Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Monday, July 24, 2017

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz noted that the authority "reviews and evaluates bus schedules on a regular basis to ensure that they accurately match current rider demand and operating conditions, as well as to ensure there are resources available where needed to provide customers with the most efficient and effective bus service possible. 

"Schedule revisions also address the need to more accurately reflect changing traffic conditions which have generally slowed in recent years," he continued, without saying whether the agency is considering the community's requests.

Councilman Kallos said he and the other elected officials are pressing the MTA to release its swipe data to get the hard facts on how many people are using on the crosstown buses.

"They are not considering the Americans with Disabilities Act — this neighborhood has seniors almost more than anywhere else," he said. "We just have to keep making our voices heard."

 

Read more


Press Release
Friday, July 21, 2017

"We are breaking ground on a new East River Esplanade that was literally crumbling into the river after generations of neglect," said Council Member Ben Kallos, who advocated for the $41 million in the City's budget for this work and co-chairs the East River Esplanade Task Force with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney. "Having already secured this funding, we were able to get shovels in the ground soon after the sea wall collapse occurred here at Carl Schurz Park. This investment spans two Council Districts to fix various collapses and sinkholes between 63rd and 125th Streets. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for agreeing to provide $35 million in initial funding for the Esplanade, the Parks Department for getting these repairs started in time to address the recent collapse, and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney for prioritizing our waterfronts and her longstanding co-leadership of the East River Esplanade Task Force."

 

Read more


Press Release
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"As an elected official, it's in my job description to stand with my constituents -- all of my constituents. Many New York residents are immigrants, and all of us should do what we can to actively welcome them into our city. I'd like to extend a huge thanks to the hackers and programmers who showed up today to say that they do," said Councilman Ben Kallos, New York City Council, 5th District.

 

Read more


Press Release
Friday, July 21, 2017

The New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 90 West Street who sued their landlord after their rents were substantially raised, even though their apartments were stabilized through 421(g). In August 2016, Public Advocate James, along with 37 elected officials, filed an amicus brief in support of the tenants who were forced to pay unfair rent increases by their landlord on their rent stabilized apartments. The judge ruled that the tenants will maintain their rent stabilized status and a referee will be appointed to determine damages. 

This is the second lawsuit involving 421(g) that tenants have won this month to protect all units of affordable housing that received the 421(g) tax abatement. On July 3, the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 50 Murray Street who also sued their landlord when rents were substantially raised despite being stabilized through 421(g).

“New York City's housing crisis is harming our City one family at a time,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This case was clear from the beginning: greedy landlords trying to double dip and cheat the system by cashing in on luxury deregulation exclusions while at the same time getting tax breaks for rent controlled units. The law is clear and it must be followed. Thank you to Tish James for being the advocate and attorney for millions of rent regulated New Yorkers who now more than ever need vigorous, committed defenders.”

Read more


Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

 

The group attending the ground breaking ceremony include NYC Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Councilman Ben Kallos, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Community Board 8 Chair Jim Clynes.

The $15 million reconstruction project will target three sites along the East River Esplanade seawall — East 88th to 90th streets, East 114th to 117th streets and East 124th to 125th streets — according to the city. In May, a portion of the seawall at East 88th Street collapsed, sending concrete blocks into the river.

Read more


Press Release
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Upper East Side- NY Compost On–the-Go, is a new program from GrowNYC’s zero waste initiatives funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation. Compost On–the-Go increases access to food waste composting for New Yorkers in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan.  Conveniently located near transit, drop-off sites are staffed by friendly compost coordinators ready to accept fruit and vegetable scraps as residents head out to start the day. In support of this environmentally savvy program Council Member Ben Kallos  joined a team of GrowNYC volunteers and employees at the 96th Street & Lexington Ave (6 Train) station on Thursday July 20th at 10am. Residents who wish to participate in composting are encouraged to drop off acceptable items every Wednesday from 7:15 am to 10:30am.  DSNY will transport collected scraps to a regional facility to be transformed into compost.  

Read more


Press Coverage
New York Times
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mr. Kallos has made curbing noise one of his top priorities. He and Costa Constantinides, a councilman from Queens, are proposing legislation that targets some of the most grating sounds by requiring city noise inspectors to respond within two hours when possible to catch noisemakers in the act. Inspectors currently have no legally mandated deadlines but follow departmental guidelines for responding within a certain period of time.

Read more


Press Release
Thursday, July 20, 2017

New York, NY – Noise is the number one complaint in New York City, but to Council Member Ben Kallos and Environmental Chair Costa Constantinides it doesn’t need to be a fact of life in the Big Apple. Kallos and Constantinides introduced legislation in June to be heard in the fall that would require the city to respond to noise complaints for nightlife and construction within two hours or on a subsequent day within an hour of the time of the complaint. The bill aims to increase the likelihood that inspectors will identify the source of the noise, issue a violation, and restore quiet.
 
“Noise is such a big problem that it might be better to call us ‘Noise’ York City. If 311 is any indication, residents are tired of all the noise, and it is time we did something about it,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “It is hard to imagine a government of the people for the people ignoring the people’s top complaint and expecting them to be happy living here. I am disappointed by recent reports that the city is actually doing less to quiet noise as complaints rise. We as a city need to take this problem seriously, take it head on without excuses, and give every New Yorker the peace and quiet they need.”
 

Read more


Press Coverage
New York Times
Sunday, July 16, 2017

As the scaffolding has proliferated, the Buildings Department has faced growing criticism that it is not doing enough to police those structures that stay too long. A City Council bill targeting such scaffolding would require it to be taken down within six months of going up, or sooner when no work is being done. The bill has drawn opposition from building owners and managers who say they may not have the money to make repairs immediately.

City building officials say that scaffolding ensures public safety and that they are required to ensure that it remains up as long as a building needs work.

Over the years, the city has struggled to keep track of scaffolding when permits have lapsed, or when existing scaffolding is simply replaced with new scaffolding under a new permit. In the case of the Harlem building, city records initially showed that the scaffolding went up only in 2012, which is when the owner replaced it.

Read more


Press Coverage
Habitat
Friday, July 14, 2017

“New Yorkers are exhausted by overdevelopment,” city councilman Ben Kallos, a leading opponent of the tall tower, tells the New York Times. “This is about standing up and showing the city that there’s another way to do things.”

Jon Kalikow, the president of Gamma Real Estate, says it would be a “disastrous outcome” if the city were to adopt the rezoning proposal.

“This building could dramatically change the character of our neighborhood,” says Alan Kersh, founding president of the East River Fifties Alliance, which opposes Gamma’s proposed tower and has more than 2,000 supporters, including 45 nearby co-ops and condominiums. Kersh lives across the street from the construction site in a 47-story building called the Sovereign.

Read more


Press Coverage
Our Town
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

At a July 7 meeting with elected representatives, MTA officials agreed to maintain current service levels on the M57 line, going back on an earlier proposal that would have increased headways on the route from 10 to 12 minutes during AM peak hours and from 12 to 15 minutes during PM peak hours. “The M57 was going to have the most cuts, and they’ve agreed to make no service changes to the M57,” Kallos said.

The proposed changes, scheduled to take effect in September, were first announced by MTA New York City Transit in a June 16 letter to elected officials and community boards. The letter also proposed reductions in service frequency on the M31, M66 and M72 bus lines that would increase scheduled wait times by 11 to 33 percent. Despite opposition from elected officials at the July 7 meeting, the MTA has not altered its proposal to cut service on the three lines, Kallos said.

 

Read more


Press Coverage
AM New York
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A zoning debate in Manhattan's Sutton Place may seem like just another posh neighborhood telling a developer its project is not welcome.

But City Hall is listening for a bellwether in the bickering.

A zoning proposal put forward by residents of the neighborhood may force Mayor Bill de Blasio to finally have to reckon with a much-criticized affordable housing program he pledged to examine 15 months ago, experts said.

Near the beginning of 2017, Gamma Real Estate filed plans for a co-op on Sutton Place. Some nearby residents said the project, which is now slated to be nearly 800 feet high, would tower over the neighborhood and change its character.

Read more


Press Coverage
New York Times
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

“New Yorkers are exhausted by overdevelopment,” said Ben Kallos, the city councilman who represents the area and a leading opponent of the tall tower. “This is about standing up and showing the city that there’s another way to do things.”

Critics of the project say that supertall towers in residential areas tend to overwhelm the neighborhood and displace less wealthy residents. Still, both Mayor Bill de Blasio and his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, rezoned large sections of the city for ever taller buildings.

The zoning change, which was proposed by Mr. Kallos and other elected officials as well as neighborhood residents, has been in the works for two years. The proposed rezoning was recently approved by the Manhattan borough president, Gale Brewer, and unanimously endorsed by the local community board. Mr. Kallos hopes that the City Council will approve the proposal after the city’s Planning Department holds a public hearing on the matter in August.

Read more


Press Release
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The hackathon will feature speakers, judges, and mentors from the New York City Council, New York State Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance, FWD.us, Fueled, Major League Hacking, New York Immigration Coalition, CUNY Dreamers and other New York-area organizations. Event sponsors include Impact Hub NYC, The Studio Project, Innovation Collective, “I Am An Immigrant,” Major League Hacking, Civic Hall, and AlleyWatch.


This year’s hackathon theme is “I Stand With Immigrants.” Participants will come together to build apps, websites, and other digital products to highlight the immigrant experience and create opportunities for allies to stand in solidarity with New York’s vibrant immigrant community. The theme is a continuation of the new Immigrant Heritage Month 2017 campaign from “I Am An Immigrant,” titled “I Stand With Immigrants,” a call for immigrants and allies across the country to celebrate our nation’s shared immigrant heritage.

Read more


Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Last month, Kallos wrote to the department questioning the use of “public safety” to justify the after-hours permits. None of the work cited — including excavation and pouring concrete — “should qualify for ‘public safety,’” Kallos wrote.

Read more


Legislation
Thursday, March 16, 2017

Resolution calling upon Congress to pass and the President to sign, legislation that would establish an American Museum of Women’s History as a part of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

 

- Read more


Legislation
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

This bill would require the Department of Education (DOE) to report to the Council and post publicly on DOE’s website a report regarding certain health services offered to students in city schools, specifically dental services, vision services, HPV vaccinations, contraception, and substance abuse counseling. The bill would also require DOE to report on outcomes for schools that offer such services compared with schools that do not. The report would be required annually, starting November 1, 2017

- Read more


Legislation
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

There are roughly 3.5 million private-sector workers in New York City, a significant percentage of whom have no access to retirement savings whatsoever. This bill would establish an individual retirement account (IRA) program for private-sector workers at businesses with 10 or more employees located in New York City that do not already offer retirement savings plans. Enrollment in the program is automatic, but employees may opt out. Contributions are handled through payroll deductions and set at a default rate, but employees may change their contribution rate. Savings accounts would be comprised of individual employees’ savings only; neither employers nor the City would contribute to individual accounts. Covered employers would be required to distribute program information to employees. The bill also sets forth a complaint procedure and civil penalties for violations.

- Read more


Legislation
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The bill would establish a goal of zero waste in New York City by 2030.

- Read more


Legislation
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The bill would require waste and recycling receptacles in common areas of buildings be labeled as either “landfill,” “recycling” or “compost.”

- Read more


Legislation
Thursday, March 16, 2017

This bill would amend the deadline for candidates for public office to file a disclosure report with the Conflicts of Interest Board.

- Read more


Legislation
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

This bill would require owners to install and maintain radiator covers.

- Read more