Community Updates

Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Friday, September 29, 2017

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — The Olympic-sized pool at Upper East Side fitness center Asphalt Green has reopened after a three-week project to install a new water filtration system, the center announced this week.

The 50-meter pool has serviced more than nine million New Yorkers since it opened in 1993, but was using its original water filters, a spokesman for Asphalt Green told Patch. Upper East Side City Councilman Ben Kallos secured more than $600,000 for new Neptune Benson Defender filters for the pool.

The new system will keep the pool cleaner and require less maintenance by filtering a whopping 2.6 million gallons of water per day, an Asphalt Green spokesman said.

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Press Coverage
City Limits
Thursday, September 28, 2017

(New York, N.Y.) – New York City sports and fitness nonprofit Asphalt Greenreopened its Upper East Side Olympic-size swimming pool earlier this month, after a three-week shutdown to install new pool filters for the first time since it opened in 1993.

The eco-friendly, energy-efficient Neptune Benson Defender filters require less maintenance, and keep the water cleaner, filtering 2.6 million gallons per day. New York City Council Member Ben Kallos led the effort to secure City funding for the project, which cost $698,000.

“Council Member Kallos continues to be a valued supporter of Asphalt Green’s mission to help New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds live active, healthy lifestyles through sports and fitness,” said Maggy Siegel, Executive Director of Asphalt Green. “We are tremendously grateful for the Council’s funding for our new eco-friendly pool filters, which will make our water cleaner for the thousands of children and adults who use our pool each month.”

“Asphalt Green is one of my favorite places on the Upper East Side to exercise, and now it has likely the cleanest pool in all of New York City thanks to the new, state-of-the-art filters and renovation,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who provided $100,000 and advocated for an additional $513,000 from Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in discretionary funding for the improvements. “Asphalt Green is one of the unique neighborhood jewels that make the Upper East Side a special place to live, and that is why I am proud of the investment my office made to keep the facility running better than ever for residents and Olympians alike.”

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Press Release
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New York, NY – Parents interested in having a say in local government could have free child care provided by the city under proposed legislation by Council Member Ben Kallos. The legislation was announced today in honor of the United Nations Women's founding of HeForShe and launch of IMPACT 10x10x10 Parity. It was inspired by a move to provide childcare at conferences in academia, civic technology, and by NYC Community Education Council 2. Countless parents have found childcare to be a challenge to their professional careers, not to mention civic engagement.
 
“It actually costs parents money to be civically engaged,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who grew up with a single mother and now offers free child care at his annual events. “How can democracy work when we exclude parents from representing the interests of themselves and their children because they may not have access to child care? If we want to build an inclusive democracy here in New York City it means offering free child care when we want to hear from any New Yorker who has children.”
 
 

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Press Coverage
The Riverdale Press
Friday, September 15, 2017

Councilman Ben Kallos doesn’t represent the Bronx, but he bets he knows what the views are like.

“We are in the unfortunate situation where if I am standing under one scaffolding in the city, I can look around and see another set of scaffolding,” said Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and Midtown. “There’s scaffolding everywhere — there is literally hundreds of miles of it.”

Yet, sidewalk sheds are nearly impossible to enforce, Kallos said, because the law only requires scaffolding to be put up and for landlords to have a permit for it. There’s nothing in the law that dictates when such scaffolding needs to come down.

“There is scaffolding in this city that is almost old enough to vote,” he said. “It is a problem all over the city.”

The existing law, according to Councilman Andrew Cohen, creates an environment like the one that allowed sidewalk sheds to stay in front of the historic Tracey Towers at 20 and 40 W. Mosholu Parkway S., for four years.

“That recently came down, and that was transformative,” Cohen said. “It was unsightly and, you know, disruptive. There was a celebratory mood at Tracey Towers when the scaffolding came down, that’s for sure.”

Yet, there could be hope for people sick of living with sidewalk sheds. Last year, Kallos introduced a bill to city council placing time limits on how long scaffolding can be left in front of buildings. 

The bill proposes a hard, six-month deadline for sidewalk sheds, requiring workers be present six days a week, and that work not stop for more than seven days at a time while such scaffolding is in place.

If a landlord can’t afford — or worst yet, doesn’t want to do — the work, Kallos said the city would step in and bill the landlord later.

“Deadlines are good things — it’s how things get done,” Kallos said. “It’s how every other part of the private sector works.”

Yet, it’s not how things get done in city council. Debate hasn’t opened on the bill yet because he needs 30 council members to sign on. His tally so far? Just two — Ydanis Rodriguez, whose district dips into Marble Hill, and Karen Koslowitz in Forest Hills.

One of the bill’s biggest enemies, Kallos said, could very well be the real estate lobby — groups like the Real Estate Board of New York, and the Rent Stabilization Association. In fact, when the bill was first proposed, Real Estate Board senior vice president Carl Hum called it “ill-conceived.” RSA representatives blasted the bill because it doesn’t account for the financial burden landlords would have to shoulder to pay for the work in these shorter spurts of time.

Cohen has a different idea, however. He thinks Kallos’ bill is too stringent, and although he is open to changing the way sidewalk sheds are regulated, he prefers a system with fees instead of hard deadlines.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Friday, May 26, 2017

Taking cues from the community about trash spilling out of garbage bins and onto sidewalks, Councilman Ben Kallos set aside $154,780 of city discretionary funds to purchase 284 "High-End Litter Baskets," which cost $525 each. 

The new cans are larger than the typical bins found on many street corners and feature narrower openings at the top to prevent spillage, as well as covered tops to discourage "that extra coffee cup," according to Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who unveiled the bins alongside Kallos Friday outside the East 86th Street Second Avenue Subway Station.

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Press Release
Friday, May 26, 2017

Kallos Promises New Large Cans For Every Corner to Clean Up the Upper East Side

New York, NY – Litter strewn sidewalks on the Upper East Side are about to get cleaner following an investment of $154,780 by Council Member Ben Kallos in 284 new large trash cans personally delivered by Sanitation Department Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. The new large trash cans are housed in a green metal case with a dome top and a small opening that prevents trash from spilling and has been reported to deter rodents.

“I am here to clean up the Upper East Side with larger trash cans on every corner that can prevent overflow and litter that spills onto the streets,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I promise a new large trash can on every corner that needs one to keep our streets clean. I encourage any resident whose corner needs a new trash can or even a second large trash can to reach out so we can clean up our neighborhood together.” 

This massive rollout followed an initial pilot that brought 38 large trash cans to hot spots with 27 large trash cans just for the East 86th Street commercial corridor. Council Member Kallos sought out to cover Second Avenue from 96th to 54th street to coincide with the opening of the Second Avenue Subway in 2017. Following the 2016 pilot resident reported reduced litter and rodents with requests for more cans from the East Sixties Neighborhood Association (ESNA), the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association (E72NA), and the East 86th Street Association (E86NA). In response Council Member Kallos expanded from his original plan of covering Second Avenue to cover every corner that had a wire mesh trash can, providing 284 new large cans that cover 104 intersections in his district. 

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Council Member Ben Kallos said his office is working with police to increase oversight of that stretch of York.

Kallos said his office worked to eliminate asymmetric lights at East 79th Street and York, and recently installed leading pedestrian intervals at the intersection where the collision took place, which allow pedestrians to enter the intersection before vehicles.

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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
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
DNAinfo.com
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Councilman Ben Kallos has set aside $1 million in capital funds under the participatory budgeting program to go toward improvement projects on the Upper East Side. Starting Saturday, residents of District 5 who are 14 and older can vote on which ones should receive the money.

 
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Press Coverage
Main Street WIRE
Saturday, March 11, 2017

Residents, Community Board 8 (CB8) members, and other elected officials, including Council Member Ben Kallos, have complained that the agreement with Sutton East Tennis prohibits the larger public from using the public park for all but about two months of the year when the space is converted to a softball field.

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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.

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the area, said some restaurants may count fines for e-bikes as part of the cost of doing business. “I’ve made a very simple request going on two years now saying ‘I’d like [residents] to no longer accept deliveries from people who show up with e-bikes,” he said. “Ultimately I think that if a restaurant gets fined $100, that’s the cost of doing business but if they lose 100 customers in a night, that has an impact.” While his office did not assist in the data collection of data, Kallos said he fully supports the idea of the survey and would suggest it to other communities that feel they have a commercial cycling problem. “Hopefully other neighborhood associations in this district, as well as around the city, will see this as a model and start working so that instead of just complaining about e-bikes people are actually empowered to do something about it,” he said.

Mason said her organization isn’t “against cyclists,” and was quick to say she didn’t want to resort to ending her patronage at the poorer scoring restaurants. Mason was recently hit by an electric bike in Queens, and wants everything possible to be done to increase her neighborhood’s safety. Ideally, Mason would like to see the Department of Health include adherence to commercial cycling rules in their letter grades for restaurants. “We’re hoping that the restaurant community will be responsive,” she said. “We want to keep the restaurants in business.”

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Monday, December 19, 2016

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations discussed legislation that would, for example, slow the approval process for new developments in the BSA. Sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos, James Van Bramer, Karen Koslowitz, Steven Matteo, Donovan Richards and Rosie Mendez, the legislation proposes to give communities more time and weight in BSA decisions. 

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and parts of Midtown, proposed a new bill to wage war on the city's nearly 9,000 units of scaffolding — also known as sidewalk sheds — by placing strict regulations on how long scaffolding is allowed to stay up and by punishing people who opt to leave scaffolding up rather than finish inspections and construction projects.

If passed, the bill would require building owners take a scaffolding unit down within 90 days of its construction, according to a press release from Kallos' office. If needed, building owners could receive a 90 day extension to fix a dangerous condition.

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Press Coverage
Crain's New York
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sidewalk sheds, the unattractive steel-and-wood structures that pop up anytime a building is being built, repaired or has been deemed unsafe, have spread across the city like kudzu during the past decade. As Crain's described in a cover story earlier this year, approximately 190 miles of them are devouring sidewalk space, cutting off sunlight and hurting businesses trapped underneath.

But at long last, there may be relief for exasperated New Yorkers.

On Tuesday, City Councilman Ben Kallos introduced a bill that would require sheds to be taken down if no work is done on the building above for seven days, with exceptions for weather and other issues. The legislation would close a loophole that allows landlords to keep dormant sheds up forever, so long as the city's Department of Buildings grants a permit, which it routinely does. The bill would also let the city do the work and bill the property owner.

Laurent Delly, who has lived near a shed that has stood since 2004 at the corner of West 123rd Street and Lenox Avenue, called the bill great news for the city. "We would be pleased with a tangible solution to this chronic issue, which has affected all of us as New Yorkers for years," he said.

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Press Coverage
Habitat
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

But sidewalk sheds have been known to overstay their welcome, like a drunken uncle, sometimes sticking around for a dozen years or more, providing magnets for drug dealers, homeless people, trash, and worse. To remedy the situation, city councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, proposed a new law on Tuesday that would give building owners three months, with the possibility of a three-month extension, to make repairs and remove scaffolding and sidewalk sheds, the New York Times reports. If the work is not completed in that time, the city will step in to do it, and charge the owner for the work.

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Press Coverage
Metro
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A bill introduced in City Council on Tuesday gives a timeline for when scaffolding has to come down or the building owner has to pay up.

The bill would set a 90-day deadline for building owners to fix a dangerous condition, according to Kallos' office. Another 90 days could be requested if an extension is required.

After the deadline, the city would finish the construction work or repairs and the building owner would have to foot the bill.

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Press Release
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New York, NY – Nearly 9,000 scaffolds that entomb 190 miles of City sidewalks may soon be dismantled, under legislation introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos. Unnecessary scaffolding also known as “sidewalk sheds” would have to be removed if seven days pass without construction work.
 
Sidewalk sheds are temporary structures, made of wooden planks, boards and metal pipes to protect pedestrians from dangerous conditions that are being corrected or new construction. Scaffolding is not only an eyesore but attract crime such as drug deals and provide an alternative to shelter for homeless. Many sidewalk sheds persist for years, sometimes more than a decade. There are several sidewalk sheds in Council District 5 represented by Kallos that have been up for years, over two years at 340 East 64th Street and 301 East 95th Street and over three years at 349 East 74th Street. Often times, it is much more expensive to fix a dangerous condition than to leave a sidewalk shed up indefinitely
 Kallos’ legislation would set the following timeline for sidewalk sheds in place for dangerous conditions:

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Monday, December 5, 2016

The new bill will be introduced Tuesday by Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side. If passed, it would give a building owner three months, with the possibility of a three-month extension, to make repairs to a facade so that scaffolding can be removed in a timely manner. If the work is not completed in that time, the city will step in to do it, and charge the owner for the work. The proposal would allow exceptions for factors such as bad weather, permit delays or in cases where removing scaffolding would be deemed dangerous to public safety.

“A specific timeline for landlords to get the work done will finally work toward holding someone accountable for scaffolding that goes up and never comes down,” Mr. Kallos said.

While the bill is likely to draw support from many residents and businesses, it faces strong opposition from many building owners. Carl Hum, a senior vice president for the Real Estate Board of New York, a leading real estate trade group with more than 17,000 members, said the proposal was “ill conceived and should be reconsidered.”

Frank Ricci, the director of governmental affairs for the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents 25,000 building owners and managers, said that owners sometimes do not have the money on hand to make costly repairs.

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