Public Safety Updates

Press Coverage
City Limits
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Among those items passed are 11 of the 12 bills in the Stand for Tenant Safety package, which aims to address the use of construction as a type of tenant harassment. A large coalition of tenant and community organizations has been advocating for the bills since 2015. Members of the Progressive caucus also recently penned an op-ed calling on the Council to pass the package.

“Even as preserving and creating affordable housing has remained a focus of both the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, the myriad loopholes landlords use in existing laws allow the number of rent-regulated apartments to dwindle. With both the cost of living in the city and rent continuing to rise, protecting the health and safety of tenants through legislation is the minimum of what can be done,” wrote Council members Antonio Reynoso, Donovan Richards, Helen Rosenthal and Ben Kallos in Gotham Gazette on July 31.

The other seven bills include a package aimed at strengthening the city’s laws concerning harassment of all types and a bill that seeks to improve the city’s fine-collection by denying landlords with certain levels of debt the ability to obtain work permits (excepting for repairs necessary to correct dangerous situations).

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Press Release
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New York, NY – Council Member Ben Kallos Vice Chair of the caucus was the prime sponsor of Int. 930 and 931 which aim to correct the behavior of  landlords and building owners that neither fix reoccurring problems on their properties nor pay the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end. The Stand For Tenant Safety (STS) legislative package will offer greater protection for tenants, especially in regards to the use of construction as harassment by landlords. STS was pushed by a citywide alliance of grassroots tenant organizations and legal service groups collaborating with the Progressive Caucus.

 

"Believe it or not, construction being used to harass and push tenants out is a huge problem in New York City. This package of legislation aims to fix the behavior of unscrupulous landlords who cut corners, neglect repairs and take advantage of loopholes to hurt tenants and avoid paying fines. Thank you to the coalition of tenant organizations and legal service groups that worked for two years to get these bills passed, “said Council Member Ben Kallos Vice chair of the Progressive Caucus.

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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.

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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.”
 

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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.

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

While responsible apartment managers adhere promptly to the spirit of the building safety law, recalcitrant owners leave the sheds up for years as a cheap way to avoid making building repairs. There are no deadlines set to force the work to be done or the sheds to come down.

The pole-and-metal roofed structures, designed to catch debris, attract it instead, along with idlers and loners, according to the complaints of nearby residents who are urging the city to take action. City Councilman Ben Kallos has proposed legislation to force a timetable of three to six months on building owners, but some insist that they don’t have the money to finish jobs. Thus sheds stay perpetually, as much a protection for scofflaw owners as pedestrians.

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Press Release
Monday, May 8, 2017

Since taking office I have been fighting to keep the East River Esplanade from falling into the river. As Co-chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce with Congress Member Maloney, I have secured $49 million in private and public dollars to maintain and rehabilitate a crumbling Esplanade. A portion of the $35 million in funding that I secured in partnership with the Mayor was already being used to shore up the portion of the Esplanade that fell into the river behind Gracie Mansion with work to begin this Summer. I am disappointed that despite having the funding and identifying this portion of the Esplanade, that work did not begin in time to prevent the collapse.

Earlier this year and last week I advocated for $169 million dollars from the City’s budget to rehabilitate the Esplanade. The City Council’s budget response also prioritized the $169 million necessary to keep the East River Esplanade from falling into the river from 60th to 125th Street. I welcome the $100 million in funding from Mayor de Balsio to connect the East River Esplanade from 53rd to 61st Street but stress the importance of supporting existing infrastructure and budgeting for new infrastructure to be created so that this never happens again.

 

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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
Village Voice
Thursday, March 23, 2017

Elected officials have joined the war against e-bikes: in December, East Side councilmen Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos issued a “report card” grading restaurants. Establishments that used e-bikes for delivery automatically received failing grades. Kallos told the Voice that he would like to see doormen refuse entry to delivery workers using e-bikes.

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Press Release
Thursday, March 16, 2017

CITY HALL - Today, Council Members Rafael Salamanca, Jr., James Vacca, Ben Kallos, Corey Johnson and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced the introduction of legislation drafted in response to the Hunts Point tragedy that occurred late last year.
 
On December 7, 2016 two girls under the age of two were killed when a valve blew off a radiator in their Bronx apartment and filled their bedroom with scalding steam.  The apartment was identified as a cluster site under the duress of the New York City Department of Homeless Services. 
 
At the time, Council Member Salamanca and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced that they would be introducing legislation to rectify the problems surrounding the tragedy. Council Members Vacca, Kallos and Johnson  had previously been crafting legislation pertinent to these issues and are joining in sponsoring the following:
 
Intro 1489 (Kallos & Salamanca) - This legislation requires owners to install and maintain radiator covers.

 

###

Contact: 
Ryan Monell at 646-584-0463 or 
rmonellatcouncil [dot] nyc [dot] gov

 

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Press Coverage
City Land
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Council Member Elizabeth Crowley was combative when questioning Chandler. Citing the Committee’s report, Crowley noted that while permits issued by the DOB were up 15 percent from 2014 to 2016, fatalities had gone up 100 percent in that same time. She laid blame for the rise in deaths on a “lapse in safety standards and supervision on the behalf of the DOB.” Crowley, sponsor of the prevailing wage bill, was baffled that the DOB would oppose requiring prevailing wages and apprenticeship training, which she pointed out that the School Construction Authority already requires for all its developments.

Council Member Benjamin Kallos expressed concerns over DOB’s testimony against apprenticeship programs. Kallos noted, and DOB conceded, that there are apprenticeship programs offered in a range of languages other than English, so language may not be such a bar. Further, when asked how many programs require a G.E.D. or its equivalent, the DOB was unable to provide an answer because it did not track such things. Kallos asked DOB to reconsider its position based on the lack of data to back the DOB’s assertions.

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Press Coverage
Thursday, December 15, 2016

The plague of pointless scaffolding encrusting Downtown sidewalks for years on end may finally have a cure.

Property owners would have six months to shore up their aging buildings and then take down sidewalk sheds, or else face “heavy penalties” under a new bill introduced by Councilmember Ben Kallos.

Area residents living under the shadow of the sidewalk sheds that have loomed over Downtown for years were overjoyed upon learning that the Upper East Side legislator is attempting to tackle the root of so many of Downtown’s quality-of-life issues, according to the president of the Financial District Neighborhood Association

“I think this is a great starting point, and it’s laudable that someone is doing this,” said Patrick Kennell.

The bill gives landlords three months to complete construction that requires scaffolding or sidewalk sheds for the job, along with an option to apply for an additional three-month extension. After that period expires, however, the city would be entitled to step in to complete any remaining work and take down the scaffolding, before kicking the bill back to the property owners for any costs incurred by the city — likely in the form of liens or by garnishing landlords’ rent earnings, according to Kallos spokesman Josh Jamieson.

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Press Release
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

City Hall, New York- Members of the New York City Fire Department were honored this afternoon as City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Ben Kallos and Elizabeth Crowley presented them with a Proclamation. The firefighters were recognized for their response and heroic actions to the October 27th 6-alarm fire at 324 East 93rd Street. 

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An analysis of data collected by the NYPD shows the success of several recent bicycle safety measures.

The study, performed by Council Ben Kallos’ office, looked at the NYPD’s “Details of Motor Vehicle Collisions in New York City” data from July 2012 to September 2016 for the 17th and 19th precincts.

Kallos and Council Member Daniel Garodnick, whose districts include these precincts, have led a push for greater bike safety and education programs in response to continuing concerns from residents between E. 26th and 96th Streets.

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Press Release
Thursday, November 10, 2016

Following an increase in education, safety equipment, and enforcement, bike safety from 30th to 97th streets on Manhattan’s East Side has improved as a result of a program led by Council Member’s Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick.  Compared to last year, there have been fewer pedestrians and cyclists injured in collisions and a reduction in the number of collisions involving cyclists.

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Press Coverage

A group of gun violence survivors joined lawmakers in Manhattan Wednesday to call out Congress for laying down to the NRA.

The “sit-in” at Carl Schurz Park on E. 86th St. was led by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) who demanded that House Speaker Paul Ryan hold a vote on legislation aimed at tightening background checks and preventing terror suspects from buying guns.

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Last week’s focus on cycling was also a collaboration with Councilmembers Ben Kallos’ and Dan Garodnick’s offices, which collectively represent the area from about East 92nd Street to about East 34th Street and have prioritized bike safety, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero program. The 19th Precinct first handed out pamphlets and then switched to handing out tickets. On Thursday afternoon, they estimated that they had issued around 100 tickets during the previous two days. The officers present declined to comment on the record, but expressed their understanding for and awareness of community concerns.

Kallos’ office has been prioritizing bike safety since he took office in 2014, and reports significant improvement. A recent press release announcing the expansion of the bike safety program to cover Midtown East touted a 15 percent decrease in bike and pedestrian collisions as of August 2015, and a 52 percent increase in enforcement.

 

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Shutting off gas to buildings on the Upper East Side has been a more common occurrence since a gas leak led to an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem two years ago, said Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat whose district includes Yorkshire Towers.

“Ever since there was an explosion related to gas, we’ve seen Con Edison being very aggressive with gas shut-offs all over the district,” Mr. Kallos said. “If Con Ed says there’s an issue, we have to trust them.”

His office, he said, has become more adept at persuading Con Ed and the Buildings Department to speed up the process of restoring service as soon as possible after repairs are made.

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Press Coverage
Crain's New York
Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Operating a crane is an inherently dangerous job, and the risks are significantly greater in a densely populated urban environment like New York City. Nationwide, approximately 89 crane-related fatalities occurred per year in construction work and between the years of 1984 and 1994—502 fatalities in 479 crane accidents. With numbers like these, safety is paramount. Because of New York City’s uniquely difficult conditions, it is critical that we have the most stringent examination and licensing procedure for individuals permitted to operate cranes.

For decades, New York City has had such a rigorous system; it is required under our building code. Crane operators licensed by the Department of Buildings are some of the best in the world. That is not luck, but the result of a longstanding crane licensing regulatory scheme. The agency developed and administered a written examination for applicants for crane operator licenses that specifically tests them on New York City's conditions and requirements. It also gave a practical examination to see how applicants operated a crane, and required that before being eligible to even sit for an examination that applicants have a certain number of years’ experience working in New York City under the supervision of a licensed crane operator.

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Press Release
Friday, April 8, 2016

Free Safety Vests, Lights and Bells Distributed to Hundreds Who Participated in Ninety Minute Safety Training in English, Spanish and ChineseNew York, NY – Last night, over one hundred fast food delivery bike workers joined Council Member Ben Kallos for training by the Department of Transportation in English, Spanish and Chinese on traffic rules and bike safety.

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Press Coverage
Manhattan Express
Thursday, February 11, 2016

Councilmember Ben Kallos said the city is currently experiencing a construction boom, similar he said to the pre-recession one he witnessed while working as chief of staff to former East Side State Assemblymember Jonathan Bing.

In 2008, two crane collapses on the Upper East Side happened less than three months apart. According to Department of Buildings accident records, an incident on March 15 of that year left seven people dead and 22 injured after a tower crane collapsed at 303 East 51st Street. Shortly afterwards, on May 30, another crane collapsed at 335 East 91st Street, leaving two dead and one injured.

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, January 12, 2016

East side councilmember wants to meet every person in the district

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Press Coverage
Crain's New York
Monday, November 23, 2015

Meanwhile, a bill in the City Council that was introduced to do an end-run around the court case altogether has been sitting in the Committee on Housing and Buildings for years. The legislation would have codified the rules favorably to Local 14.

"I don't want to trust the safety of our people to a national exam when we need to make sure [operators] are prepared to do the work and have the experience here," said City Councilman Benjamin Kallos, the sponsor of the proposed legislation.

The bill has a veto-proof 34 co-sponsors. But with the city's Law Department on the opposite side, the mayor would not be likely to ever sign it.

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