Updates

Press Coverage
Curbed
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

While its a step in the right direction, annoyed New Yorkers are saying its not enough and call for legislation that will penalize property owners who keep the sidewalk sheds up for extended lengths of time to avoid making necessary repairs. “We already know how big a problem it is, and unless the city is willing to take steps to get the scaffolding down, it doesn’t matter,” City Councilman Ben Kallos told the Times. He has proposed a bill that would require building owners to make facade repairs within three to six months so that scaffolds aren’t up for longer than that.

 

As a result of the new map, the DOB was able to order 150 scaffolds to be dismantled since work had been finished. Though the database consolidates data, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will help scaffolds come down any quicker. “We’re erring on the side of safety to keep them in place so no one gets hurt,” said DOB Commissioner Rick Candler.

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Newsletter

 

Thank you to all the parents, teachers, delegates, and the 2,421 voters who made the 2017 Participatory Budgeting process a huge success by voting on how we spend $1 million. And the winners are: P.S. 183’s Science and STEM Lab and the P.S. 198/77 Playground Renovation!

This month, we joined Mayor Bill de Blasio in announcing $100 million to add 8 new blocks of parkland and close the gap on the East River Esplanade from 53rd to 61st Streets. We also worked with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to include a request for $169 million in the City Council's preliminary budget response to continue necessary repairs to the Esplanade.

I continue to lead the fight for Pre-Kindergarten seats on the Upper East Side, where 300 four-year-olds are being asked to commute out of district as far as the Financial District for Pre-K. In response, parents, children, and elected officials rallied for Pre-K for All to include seats on the Upper East Side. As we continue to fight for school seats, I have been advocating for Universal Childcare for all city children from birth to four, and the city has taken a big step with a plan to provide Pre-K to three-year-olds too.

Governor Cuomo announced the first in the nation Excelsior Scholarship for students whose families make $125,000 per year or less, who will now qualify for free college tuition at all City (CUNY) and State (SUNY) two- and four-year colleges in New York State as long as they live in state. When I ran for office in 2013, one of the "fresh ideas" for which the New York Times endorsed me was providing a debt-free higher education for CUNY students. I am proud to support Governor Cuomo's program.

Legislation I authored to “Get Big Money Out of New York City Politics” by matching every small dollar got a hearing, a rally, and support from a broad coalition of organizations representing communities of color, immigrants, tenants, preservation, good government, candidates, and regular New Yorkers.

In celebration of Earth Day, I joined in the “March for Science” and introduced legislation to make New York City greener by decreasing light pollution, increasing commercial recycling and mandating zero waste by 2030 to make the MTS obsolete.

Do you want to learn more about your rights as a tenant? Join me on Thursday, May 18, you for a Housing Forum with presentations on your rights as a tenant, how to organize your building, how you can get involved in our campaign to lower rent for rent stabilized tenants, with housing experts on hand to answer your questions. The event will begin at 6pm at the Julia Richman Education Complex located at 317 East 67th Street. RSVP

Please join me for First Friday on Cinco de Mayo. I would also like to wish my mother and all the District 5 mothers a Happy Mother’s Day.

Sincerely, 


Ben Kallos
Council Member

SPECIAL EVENTS:

May 18, 6pm
Housing Forum

May 20, 10am-2pm
Shred-A-Thon

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

May 5, 8am - 10am
First Friday

May 9, 6pm
Brainstorming With Ben

May 25, 6pm
6:00pm - 7:30pm
Citi Bike Skills Class

May 29
Office Closed 
Memorial Day

 

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

While Mr. Rubin said the city’s new scaffolding database would be useful, he added that it did not go far enough to address the problem. “As long as building owners find it cheaper and easier to keep up a sidewalk shed, rather than remedy the dangerous building conditions that make sheds required, the many problems that are caused by these ubiquitous sidewalk sheds will never be solved,” he said.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, said he was “underwhelmed” by the building department’s efforts, adding that it will do little to address scaffolding that has overstayed its welcome. “We already know how big a problem it is, and unless the city is willing to take steps to get the scaffolding down, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

Mr. Kallos has proposed legislation that would give a building owner three months to repair a facade, with the possibility of a three-month extension, so that scaffolding can be removed within six months of going up, or sooner when no work is being done. The legislation has drawn support from many residents and business groups, including the New York State Restaurant Association and the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

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Press Coverage
CBS New York
Sunday, April 30, 2017

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Officials and parents rallied Sunday on the Upper East Side, calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to open up more pre-kindergarten seats in neighborhood schools.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, Irina Goldman was planning on placing her 4-year-old into the City’s Pre-K program this upcoming school year. Living at 83rd Street and First Avenue, she was really looking for anything within a 20-minute walk.

But as many parents in the neighborhood are facing, her child was placed in a school six miles away in Lower Manhattan.

“When I found out, honestly, I cried, just out of frustration,” Goldman said.

Upper East Side parent Rob Bates was also hoping he could get his son, Michael, a pre-K seat a program somewhere – really anywhere – in the neighborhood. But Michael, 4, was assigned to a program in Union Square – at least a 30-minute subway ride away.

Bates said the trip was a huge burden for their family.

“The subways are very crowded, and it makes us nervous,” he said. “You know, you have a fragile little child. You don’t want to put him on a crowded subway like that, especially for that length of time.”

In all, more than 900 Upper East Side families with 4-year-olds applied for the Pre-K program. A third of them were given seats outside the neighborhood, creating a logistical nightmare for parents.

Goldman said her family has no clue now if they are going to send their child to pre-K at all.

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Press Release
Monday, May 1, 2017

New York, NY - Four-year-olds and their parents rallied alongside elected officials at St Catherine’s Park on the Upper East Side to demand that the Department of Education to fulfill its duty to the Community and provide a Universal Pre-K seat for the over almost 300 four-year-old’s who were not offered seats in the neighborhood.
 
In 2014 WNYC  reported that 2,767 four-year-olds only had 151 pre-kindergarten seats. Since taking office Council Member Kallos has worked with community leaders and organization, providers and the Department of Education to bring hundreds of seats to his district and joined with Council Member Garodnick to bring dozens to the Upper East Side, quadrupling the number of seats for the 2016-17 school year to 618.
 
This year, the Upper East Side lost seats, while applications increased leaving over 900 four-year-olds with only 596 seats on the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, and Midtown East. Children have been assigned to schools not even list as choices by parents as far away as the financial district.
 
On April 17, Council Member Kallos authored a letter with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Assembly Member Dan Quart and Council Member Dan Garodnick, to the Department of Education demanding seats for every four-year-old in the neighborhood.
 
Now the elected officials join with four-year-olds, parents, to demand a pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds on the Upper East Side in their neighborhood.
 
 

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Press Coverage
Curbed
Friday, April 28, 2017

Neighbors and local elected officials have however argued that that consensus was ludicrous, and that it would be hard to imagine a building going up in a 10-by-22-foot lot. Neighbors have already filed two appeals against the project, according to DNAinfo, and now led by their local City Council member, Ben Kallos, they have filed a third. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has expressed her opposition to the project as well.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Friday, April 28, 2017

"If you own a piece of land where the zoning says you can't build a skyscraper in this part of the district, you don’t get to draw an imaginary line in the sand," said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who filed the appeal with other elected officials and the Carnegie Hill Neighbors group this month.

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Friday, April 28, 2017

A bill heard by the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations on Thursday aims to further limit the influence of big-dollar donations and special interests in city elections. The bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, who chairs the committee, would tweak the city’s public campaign finance system by removing a cap on public funds disbursed to candidate campaigns by the Campaign Finance Board (CFB).

The city’s campaign finance system is held up as a national model that incentivizes small dollar donations by matching them with public funds. Each qualifying contribution up to $175 is matched 6-to-1 by the city, through the CFB, allowing candidates with a lack of access to personal wealth or deep-pocketed donors to run competitive campaigns. Currently, the CFB only matches public funds up to 55 percent of the spending limit for a particular seat.

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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
Upper East Side Patch,NYC
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

“The dream of an East River Greenway is getting closer with a vital connection to fill the gap between 53rd and 61st streets. I will finally be able to run the full length of my district from Midtown East to East Harlem,” City Council Member and Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce Ben Kallos said in a statement.

 
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Press Coverage
Curbed
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Local officials, including City Council members Ben Kallos, Dan Gardonick and Ydanis Rodriguez; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney also cheered the decision, with Garodnick noting that, “while we still have some considerable gaps, our plans just got a whole lot closer to reality.” Another $5 million will be allocated to a study of the Greenway’s remaining parcels, with the goal of clarifying next steps in finishing the entire waterfront.

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Press Coverage
Metro
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Councilman Ben Kallos, who co-chairs the East River Esplanade Taskforce, applauded the plan. “I will finally be able to run the full length of my district from Midtown East to East Harlem,” he said.

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

“We’ll be able to see who’s getting hurt, where and why so that we as a city can make construction safer. We must count every life,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the bill’s sponsor.

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Press Release
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pensions for All to Help New Yorkers Save for Retirement Introduced by Public Advocate James and Council Member Kallos

President Trump Called Upon to Veto Congressional Resolution That Would
Block States from Providing Retirement Accounts to Residents
 

New York City – Following the passage of House Joint Resolutions 66 and 67 by Rep. Walberg (R-MI) and Rep. Rooney (R-FL) on March 30, 2017, to roll back regulations   permitting States and Municipalities to offer retirement savings plans, Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Ben Kallos are introducing legislation (Intro:1574 and Intro:1580), Saving Access New York, that would allow every private sector worker in New York City to save pre-tax for retirement even if their employer did not offer a 401K. On April 13, President Trump signed H.J. Resolution 67 pertaining to municipalities into law. Public Advocate James and Council Member Kallos are now calling on President Trump to veto the remaining Congressional legislation and empower Americans throughout this nation to take personal responsibility to save for their retirements.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Monday, April 24, 2017

More than 900 4-year-olds and their families applied for pre-K this year, but there were only 596 seats available on the Upper East Side, meaning that 300 students and their parents must travel outside the neighborhood to get to school, according to City Councilman Ben Kallos.

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Monday, April 24, 2017

The legislation introduced by Councilman Ben Kallos would cover stores, restaurants, office building lobbies and all other public buildings where New Yorkers now often only have the option to trash paper and plastic items that could be recycled.

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Press Release
Monday, April 24, 2017

Bill would Increase City’s Waste Diversion and Recycling Rates 
 New York, NY – In order to support the City’s Zero Waste goal by 2030 and improve the city’s dismal recycling rate, legislation introduced by Council Member Kallos would require source separation to be available in any place of public accommodation with bins for trash, recycling, and compost. Additional legislation would require New York City reach its goal of Zero Waste - diverting all waste from landfills  by 2030, regardless of the next Mayor. Both bills will be introduced on April 25th at the City Council's stated meeting. 
 
“The city has set a goal of Zero Waste by 2030 without an Executive Order or a plan to get there. Now that the city has set a goal, it is time to put into the law. The city should be looking for ways to reduce waste we send to landfills instead of wasting hundreds of millions building marine transfer-to-landfill stations,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents a Marine Transfer Station currently under construction on the border of East Harlem. “Recycling should be a habit. New Yorkers should be able to recycle whether they are home, at work, in a park, or catching a quick bite to eat. Recycling by places that offer public accommodation can and must be better.”

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Saturday, April 22, 2017

Scientists are ditching their labs and taking to the streets Saturday — with marches planned in New York City and Washington aimed at protecting the public funding of science.

Among those marching in Manhattan is Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side), a computer scientist by trade — who hopes the marches sway scientists to run for office.

“It would be nice not to be the only nerd in government,” quipped Kallos.

The councilman said he’d like to see the federal government recognize climate change is real — a dig at President Trump’s policies on the issue.

“I would like to see a government that makes decisions based on science and measures the results of those decisions,” he said.

While Trump’s planned budget cuts and disdain for climate science may have precipitated the march, its local organizers stressed the event won’t be partisan.

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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 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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