Updates

Press Coverage
City Land
Thursday, December 29, 2016

The site for the skyscraper forms an L-shape, wrapping around several existing buildings and fronting both Third Avenue and 88th Street. Last year the developer carved out a lot measuring four by twenty-two feet on the development’s 88th Street front. Doing so allowed the owner to avoid strict zoning requirements, including height limits for narrow buildings between two low-rise buildings. The move also allowed the owner to designate space on the side facing 88th Street as a required rear yard, when in practice it would serve as an entrance to the skyscraper. The Department of Buildings approved the carve-out.

In May 2016, after construction had begun, the scheme came to the notice of Council Member Ben Kallos who, with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, requestedthat Buildings immediately stop construction at the site for a review. Together, they called the 88 square-foot lot “the smallest created in modern times” and “unbuildable” with “no legitimate purpose.” Buildings stopped construction at the site shortly after.

Working with the City, the developer proposed increasing the carved out lot to ten by twenty-two feet. On October 27, 2016, Buildings approved the increased size, stating that the agency considered the now larger lot “developable.”

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Press Coverage
City Land

The site for the skyscraper forms an L-shape, wrapping around several existing buildings and fronting both Third Avenue and 88th Street. Last year the developer carved out a lot measuring four by twenty-two feet on the development’s 88th Street front. Doing so allowed the owner to avoid strict zoning requirements, including height limits for narrow buildings between two low-rise buildings. The move also allowed the owner to designate space on the side facing 88th Street as a required rear yard, when in practice it would serve as an entrance to the skyscraper. The Department of Buildings approved the carve-out.

In May 2016, after construction had begun, the scheme came to the notice of Council Member Ben Kallos who, with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, requestedthat Buildings immediately stop construction at the site for a review. Together, they called the 88 square-foot lot “the smallest created in modern times” and “unbuildable” with “no legitimate purpose.” Buildings stopped construction at the site shortly after.

Working with the City, the developer proposed increasing the carved out lot to ten by twenty-two feet. On October 27, 2016, Buildings approved the increased size, stating that the agency considered the now larger lot “developable.”

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Newsletter

Happy New Year! Your gift for the holiday season and surviving nearly a decade of construction is a brand new Second Avenue Subway.

On Sunday January 22, I will be hosting my annual State of the District event with FREE reusable bags at Memorial Sloan Kettering and everyone is invited. At the State of the District, I will be discussing the busy year my office has had and highlighting some of the victories we have accomplished with our many community partners. RSVP to reserve your bag.

In December we continued to fight for responsible development. I introduced a bill aimed at fighting the proliferation of scaffolding by limiting how long it can be up without work being done or completed. The battle to rezone the Sutton area continued in December as the community and elected officials submitted the rezoning application to the City. As the property was sold at auction to the original lender, the race to rezone continues. At 180 East 88th Street we submitted a zoning challenge to force the developer to follow the zoning laws. We are even reclaiming public park land from a private use and need your opinion on what the park should look like.

As I continue to fight special interests I am proud to have passed laws to open up the deed restriction process and improve our campaign finance system by stopping public dollars from amplifying the voices of special interests doing business with the city so that public dollars only amplify the voices of voters like you.

Thank you all who attended the Holiday Party in early December, it was great seeing everyone at my district office. I hope to see many of you at my State of the District event on January 22. RSVP

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos
Council Member

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

January 22, 2017
1pm-3pm
State of the District Address

January 23, 2017
6:30-9:30pm
Trading the Sky Panel

January 26, 2017
2:30-5pm
Commercial Bike Safety Event

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

January 6
8am-10am
First Friday

January 10
6pm-7pm
Brainstorming With Ben

January 12
5pm-6pm
Landmarking and Land Use Clinic

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. INVITATION: State of the District with Free Bags
  2. Opening the Second Avenue Subway
  3. Campaign Finance Laws Passed
  4. Scaffolding Reform
  5. Traffic Cones
  6. Delivery Bike Safety
  7. 180 East 88th Street Construction Permit Challenged
  8. Sutton: Citation for Charles Fernandez
  9. Join Your Community Board

HOUSING AND ZONING

  1. Reforms to Stop BSA Variances from Neighborhood Plans
  2. Preventing the Next Rivington: Deed Restriction Reforms Signed into Law
  3. Unveiling Henderson Place District Marker
  4. Join Me for "Trading the Sky" Panel Discussion
  5. Land Use Clinic
  6. Mapping the Shadows of New York City
  7. Freinds of the Upper East Side Historic Districts 2017 Awards: A Call For Entries

ENVIRONMENT

  1. Opening the Queensboro Oval Under the 59th Street Bridge
  2. Cleaner Air From City Power Plants
  3. Con Edison Steam and Power Plant at East 74th Street

COMMUNITY

  1. Apply for Pre-K
  2. Help the Homeless by Counting Those in Need
  3. LifeSciNYC
  4. NYCEDC Works Toward Starting Life Sciences Incubators
  5. Proclamation for Sally Minard
  6. Tours for Schools
  7. Firefighter Raises Money for Upper East Side Fire Victims
  8. Night at the Opera
  9. Park NYC Roll Out
  10. E-Waste Event at the 92nd Street Y
  11. The Glass Room with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

OFFICE UPDATES

  1. Happy Holidays
  2. Remembering the Fallen at Pearl Harbor
  3. City Council Funding for Local Non-Profits
  4. Legislative Corner
  5. Free Legal Clinics
  6. Here to Help
  7. Mobile District Hours
  8. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS AND RESOURCES

  1. City Council Events
  2. Government Meetings
  3. Community Boards
  4. New York Police Department
  5. Neighborhood and Tenant Associations
  6. Community Events for Kids
  7. Community Events for Adults
  8. Resources Funded by My Office
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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
Queens Chronicle
Friday, December 23, 2016

Sick of the Board of Standards and Appeals approving projects contrary to their wishes, members of Queens civic associations are highly supportive of a 10-bill package before the City Council to make the agency more transparent.

A hearing on the bills, some of which were introduced by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) this month and others of which were introduced before, was held on Dec. 14.

Some of the measures that stand out include a bill that would create a $25,000 fine for lying on an application; one that would require the agency to reference arguments made by community and borough boards and the City Planning Commission in its decisions; and another that would mandate the creation of a map showing locations where variances and special permits have been granted.

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Press Release
Tuesday, December 27, 2016

NEW YORK, NY : Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Government Operations Committee, and Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Immigration Committee released the following joint statement after a construction worker fell to his death after falling down an elevator shaft on the Upper East Side Friday morning. 

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch,NYC
Friday, December 23, 2016

Three City Council members — Jumaane Williams, Ben Kallos and Carlos Mechaca — released a statement offering their condolences to the worker's families and pledging to make sure developers are held accountable when a job site is unsafe.

The joint statement reads:

"We're saddened to offer our prayers of peace and comfort to the family and friends of yet another young man who lost his life on a New York City construction site. If it is even possible to make such news worse, getting it during the holiday season must be unimaginable. My thoughts are with them.

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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
Gotham Gazette
Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The de Blasio administration is bringing in a new chief administrative officer to work under First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris starting January 1. Laura Anglin, who comes to City Hall after serving as president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities for the last seven years, “will support the work of a number of City agencies,” according to the December 15 press release announcing her hire.

Those agencies include several within Shorris’ 30-agency portfolio, the vastness of which was a key point of contention at a City Council oversight hearing in September. At that hearing, which focused on the administratioan’s mistakes in removing deed restrictions on Rivington House, City Council Member Ben Kallos asked Shorris a series of questions about the structure of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s upper management and whether the first deputy mayor has too much on his plate. Kallos indicated that he believes de Blasio should have a deputy mayor for operations like some of his predecessors.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Monday, December 19, 2016

If the DOB decides to uphold its decision, then the developer can appeal with the city's Board of Standards and Appeals.

The challenge against DDG's plans, which can be submitted by individuals or organizations, was filed by local group Carnegie Hill Neighbors as well as politicians including Brewer, Councilman Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Krueger and the law firm Carter Ledyard & Milburn. 

Their petition argues that DDG has made no changes to resolve zoning issues raised when it first filed plans with the city.

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Press Coverage
Queens Gazette

City Council Member Costa Constantinides, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, and state Senator Michael Gianaris on December 9th called for an end to the use of numbers 6 and 4 fuel oil in power plants. They were joined by the Astoria Houses Tenants Association, Queensbridge Houses Tenants Association, Ravenswood Houses Tenants Association, Jacob Riis Senior Center, Urban Upbound, American Lung Association, Asthma Coalition of Queens, and WeACT.

Ending the use of Number 6 and 4 oils would help reduce emissions produced by the plants in order to meet goals set by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. They called on the power plant operators to demonstrate how they plan to comply with Local Law 38 of 2015, which requires that they phase out use of number 6 oil in plants citywide by 2020. They also called on the plant operators to phase out use of number 4 oil sooner than the scheduled 2030 phase-out. Numbers 6 and 4 oils are considered to be the dirtiest grades of oil available. They are linked to air pollutants that pose risk to public health, including particulate matter, nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide.

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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 Release
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New York, NY – New York City’s landmark small-dollar matching campaign finance system may soon be protected from an onslaught of dark money and special interests in City elections. Today the Committee on Governmental Operations chaired by Council Member Ben Kallos passed a package of legislation that expands the "doing business" definitions to include owners of companies that own companies and no longer matching funds they bundle as well as providing early determinations and payments of public funds". This package was first introduced in late 2015 by Governmental Operations Committee Chair Ben Kallos along with Council Members Jumaane Williams, Andy King, and Fernando Cabrera. This committee vote sends the legislation to the full council where it is expected to pass.

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Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Thursday, December 15, 2016

But community critics aren’t mollified. “Six feet doesn’t make a difference,” said New York City Council member Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat. “An unbuildable 10-foot lot must not give rise to an illegal skyscraper," he said.

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Press Release
Thursday, December 15, 2016

New York, NY — The Department of Building has just approved new zoning plans for a 524-foot skyscraper at 180 East 88th Street with the expansion of a 4-foot wide lot at the center of a six-month stop work order by 6 feet to 10 feet. Carnegie Hill Neighbors, Council Member Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer have filed with the Department of Buildings an official zoning challenge. 

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Press Coverage
New York YIMBY
Thursday, December 15, 2016

The City Council is trying to drag the Board of Standards and Appeals—the agency that decides zoning changes for many New York City developments—into the 21st century. The council’s Government Operations committee spent yesterday afternoon discussing bills that would force the agency to post zoning applications and decisions publicly, create a map of those decisions, and keep community boards and council members in the loop on applications.

The Board of Standards and Appeals consists of five commissioners appointed by the mayor. City law requires that the board must include one registered architect, one professional engineer, and one urban planner. While many pieces of the city’s land use process can be obscure, the BSA has steadfastly resisted oversight and transparency. Every year, dozens of developers file applications with the agency, seeking a minor change or exemption from zoning rules based on a “financial hardship.”

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Press Coverage
City Land
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ten bills will be aired for public opinion to place restrictions on and revamp the processes of the Board of Standards and Appeals. On December 6, 2016, Council Member Ben Kallos introduced five new bills regarding the oversight and operations of the Board of Standards and Appeals at the City Council’s stated meeting. The Board of Standards and Appeals, which was originally created to be an independent board tasked with granting “relief” from the zoning code, is empowered by the Zoning Resolution and primarily reviews and decides applications for variances and special permits.

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Press Release
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Rezoning of Neighborhoods without Public Review 
Targeted for Reform by New York City Council 

Zoning Variances at Board of Standards and Appeals Subject of Council Reforms

 
New York, NY – Over the objections of local Community Boards and elected officials developers have been able to circumvent city zoning laws restricting building forms, use, height, density and more, through the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). The little agency, mostly known as a “rubber stamp” for developers, has been criticized for ignoring objections of community and elected officials, difficulty in appealing determinations without any written decision and short time frame, and ultimately “rezoning by variance” without public review.
 
The BSA granted 97% of variances in 2011 (102 of 105), with community boards only supporting 79% of the variances that they acted on (81 of 103) according to Citizen’s Union.

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The governmental operations committee is headed by Council Member Ben Kallos, who is more knowledgeable about the campaign finance system than Council Member Alan Maisel, the chair of the standards and ethics committee -- somethign Maisel acknowledged in a prior interview with Gotham Gazette. Kallos has expressed concerns about some of the second package of bills, including around bill details and process.

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Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The City Council will discuss 10 bills Wednesday aimed at tightening the rules that allow property owners to bend zoning regulations.

Council member Ben Kallos is sponsoring the proposed bills that will target the Board of Standards and Appeals, Crain’s reported. The board is able to approve applications from landlords who argue they need to surpass zoning laws in order to make a profit from a development. In some cases, according to the publication, owners ask that a height restriction be relaxed so that revenue-generating apartments can be built. In other circumstances an owner may say that a lot is oddly shaped and it is therefore impossible to conform to zoning laws.

In 2011, the board approved 97 percent of applications that came before it, many of which had been opposed at the local council level. Kallos believes the board is too lenient.

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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 Coverage
Crain's New York

According to the Manhattan councilman sponsoring five of the bills—which are to be heard Wednesday by the Committee on Governmental Operations—the board is too frequently persuaded. In 2011, it approved 97% of applications, many of which were opposed by local community boards.

"We are taking away the rubber stamp from a government agency that used it far too often over the objections of residents," Councilman Ben Kallos, chairman of the committee, said in a statement. "Developers will have to be honest."

Making a false statement on an application would trigger a $25,000 fine, according to one of the bills sponsored by Kallos. Another would require the board retain a certified appraiser to pore over financial analyses to better vet applicants' claims of financial hardship. Other bills are designed to increase transparency and incorporate opinions from elected officials into the board's considerations. Together, the measures would more thoroughly scrutinize developer's claims of hardship and potentially make it harder to get a zoning variance from the board.

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Press Coverage
BOSS MAGAZINE
Friday, December 9, 2016

New York City Councilman Ben Kallos explained,  “New Yorkers want to get where they are going fast. Everyone hates traffic jams, especially when they are for road work, but no one is actually there doing the work. It’s about making sure we are only impeding traffic and causing traffic when we absolutely need to.”

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