Community Updates

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

“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,NYC
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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Press Coverage
AM New York
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Councilman Ben Kallos, whose district includes the East 80s, said he would have preferred the subway to open years ago, as it's been planned since the 1920s, but now is better than never.

But Kallos said he thinks while "100 years is a long time to wait for a subway," when the line finally opens it will be a welcome sight.

"The Second Avenue Subway will [lure] a lot of the riders from Lexington over to," said Kallos. "Businesses that are now here will have the benefit of more traffic, both foot traffic and subway traffic. The neighborhood will get Second Avenue back."

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Press Release
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Maz Mezcal Mexican Restaurant, Upper Eastside — New York City Department of Finance (DOF) Commissioner Jacques Jiha, DOF Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Shear, New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President, Ms. Jessica Walker and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU), gather to encourage Upper East Side businesses to take advantage of “Forgiving Fines: The New York City Amnesty Program.” This 90-day initiative will forgive penalties and interest on violations received by individuals and business owners from the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings and other City agencies, reducing and eliminating debt owed to the City. The program runs from September 12, 2016 to December 12, 2016 and covers unpaid violations that are now in judgment. There are roughly 1.4 million violations in judgment.

Under the three-month amnesty program authorized by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, New York City is forgiving penalties, interest and added fees on violations received by home and business owners from the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings, NYPD, FDNY and other City agencies. 

"Upper East Side small businesses have gone through a lot over the last couple of years with the construction of the 2nd Avenue Subway. Those same businesses are what make this community special and this neighborhood desirable," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "The Department of Finance's Forgiving Fines program gives small businesses a chance to catch up on outstanding fines and start with a cleaner slate. The program offers a 90-day window to participate and I encourage businesses with unpaid fines to use this opportunity."

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Press Coverage
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

“I am excited to become one of the almost 1 million IDNYC cardholders, and I am proud to do it in my district on Roosevelt Island,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side-Midtown East-Roosevelt Island), who personally signed up for an IDNYC card after the press conference.

 

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Press Coverage
Manhattan Express
Thursday, October 13, 2016

City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who has been a fierce proponent of CB8’s mission to end private management of the park, said he is ready to allocate funds for this cause.

“I have already represented to the parks department that I would be interested in investing capital funding from my office,” Kallos said, adding there was additional money available from Borough President Gale Brewer and the state.

“I am willing to put my money where my mouth is in investing in this park,” Kallos said.

CB8 has brought up the idea of establishing a conservancy for the park that would raise money for maintenance and other expenses.

The parks department has indicated that if it decides to revert the Queensboro Oval to public management, it would take more than three years to create a fully accessible park.

Kallos insisted that in that scenario, the park should not go unused. Sutton East, he said, could remain in the space during the months it has a license to run its tennis facility provided that it return the park to its original condition during the summer months –– as its license currently requires.

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Press Release
Thursday, September 29, 2016

"There is no place for bigotry and hatred toward Muslims or any other religious group or race in New York City," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Progressive Caucus Vice-Chair. "We must do everything in our power to fight racism wherever we see it in our City. New York City's reputation as this country's largest melting pot must go on without instances of discrimination and hate."

 

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bikes were the hot topic at the town hall held by Council Member Ben Kallos last Thursday.

Bike lanes, bike shares and the enforcement of biking laws seemed to weigh heavily on the minds of the 70 or so attendees at the event. It was not the first time an audience largely comprised of senior citizens has turned out in full force at a community meeting to raise concerns about bikes.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Luis Sanchez was present to address the issue, which he acknowledged but largely passed off to the city’s police department.

“NYPD is responsible for enforcing the laws,” Sanchez said. “[DOT] doesn’t have the power to actually write tickets, but what we do is we go to the restaurant because the restaurant is supposed to have a roster of their cyclists. … If they don’t then we can issue a violation to the restaurant.”

Sanchez and Kallos encouraged residents to go to their respective NYPD precinct community councils with specific questions or requests for more thorough enforcement.

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Press Coverage
League of Independent Theater
Monday, September 12, 2016

NY Council Member, and LIT endorsed candidate, Ben Kallos announced on Monday, Aug 22an incredible piece of legislation that allows community members to use City-owned buildings for rehearsals and performances. 

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

“What happens when someone you represent as a lobbyist has business in our districts and wants something from us, and we need your vote in 2017 to get on the ballot?” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan).

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Sunday, June 5, 2016

The new cans will be placed at intersections on First, Second, Third and Lexington avenues, from East 70th to East 98th street, where there have been numerous complaints of trash overflow, according to City Councilman Ben Kallos, who funded the cans with $20,710 from his budget.

The cans are wider in circumference than the normal trash receptacles and have a domed top with a smaller hole on the top.  Some of them will replace existing wire bins that are smaller, and the others will be added to intersections that didn't have bins before.

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Press Release
Friday, June 3, 2016

Litter strewn sidewalks on the Upper East Side are about to get cleaner following an investment of $20,710 by Council Member Ben Kallos in 38 new large trash cans personally delivered by Sanitation Department Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

The large trash cans are targeted to street corners with high numbers of trash complaints in order to prevent trash overflow and spillage of litter on to the street. The 38 large trash cans will start from 70th Street and First Avenue through 98th Street and Lexington, with 27 large trash cans just for the East 86th Street commercial corridor.

“I am here to clean up the Upper East Side with larger trash cans that can prevent overflow and litter that spills onto the streets,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Commissioner Garcia and the Department of Sanitation for twice a day pickup and these new larger trash cans to help keep the Upper East Side clean.”

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