Updates

Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Monday, March 13, 2017

"It's not a topic that I can get into," Camilo said when asked by Council government operations chair Ben Kallos whether "poor performance" got Morales fired. She also refused to say whether Morales was cooperating with federal authorities investigating the mayor.

Camilo said she made the decision to get rid of Morales and informed first Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris. Morales's lawyer has said the dismissal was improper and called the timing "highly suspicious."

Meanwhile, DCAS revealed that since overhauling their rules on deed restrictions in response to the scandal, they've received requests to change or remove the restrictions on seven properties.

The properties are in Harlem, Longwood in the Bronx, and Bedford Stuyvesant, East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Bushwick, and East New York in Brooklyn. No action has been taken on any of the proposals yet.

Kallos (D-Manhattan) said the Longwood request raises red flags because like Rivington, it is a non-profit nursing home and rehab facility currently restricted to that use.

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Press Coverage
Village Voice
Friday, January 6, 2017

Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, said his grandfather used the vehicular elevator while serving as a doctor at Coler-Goldwater Hospital. Kallos first remembers taking the tram with elementary school classmates in the 1980s. “We had a birthday party on Roosevelt Island, and that’s the first time I remember going there,” he said. “At the time, the only way you were going to get there was on the tram.”

The tram served as an '80s backdrop not only for Kallos’s childhood memories, but also for high-flying scenes in the cheesy 1981 Sylvester Stallone thriller Nighthawks, where Sly’s character pilots a helicopter in a bid to rescue hostages held in one of the tram cabins.

Finally, the subway opened in 1989. The next year, the city came to an interim agreement with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, the state authority that manages the island, to continue operating the tram, which remained popular.

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Friday, January 6, 2017

 

A bill introduced last month by City Council member Ben Kallos would try to end this ridiculous time warp. It would require building owners to finish repair work in six months, so that sheds can be removed. If work on a building ever stopped for seven or more consecutive days, landlords would have to take the sheds down or risk being fined.

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Press Coverage
Thursday, January 5, 2017

The New York City subway is the lifeblood of the city, outgoing MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast said the other night—that is, the sort of circulatory system that people tend to move through, drift through like blood cells (5,650,610 each weekday, to be precise), not a place they move to. On New Year’s Eve, it was the opposite: six stories down was the figurative height of urban accomplishment, a gleaming destination unto itself. The crazy idea of launching the Second Avenue Subway at a New Year's Eve party inside a subway station—of launching the subway at all, on deadline—was Governor Cuomo's, said the governor, who was standing on a dais above a crowd of well-dressed revelers and not far from a black sign hanging on the wall that said, miraculously, in white Helvetica letters, “72 STREET. 24 HOUR BOOTH.”

“I said to my family, I said, ‘You know how about this for an idea? We have a New Year’s Eve party in the new subway station.’ And they gave me that look, like you know, ‘There’s crazy Dad again!’ But, I said, ‘This is unlike any subway station you’ve ever seen. You look at this mezzanine level, which subway stations normally don’t have. It’s open, it’s airy. You look at the public art that is in all these stations, it is amazing." Here, the walls were decorated with amusing, live-size mosaic portraits of everyday New Yorkers by artist Vic Muniz, including one of a couple of bulky, bearded Brooklynites holding hands. Cuomo did not mention that, nor did he acknowledge another obvious amazement: the station was litter-free, with not a rat in sight.

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Press Release
Friday, January 6, 2017

Singer was supportive of the legislation’s application of the threat of perjury to BSA applications, but questioned how such a bill would be enforced. Regarding the additional requirements from applicants, Singer stated that one size does not fit all, and that the BSA already had a set of required information on its website. Singer was open to working with the Council to change some of those requirements outside of legislation.

The BSA did not support the portion of the bill to post all applications online and all testimony received for every application. Singer stated that for security reasons such information should not be publicly disclosed. Council Member Ben Kallos questioned the BSA’s objection to publicly disclosing all applications. “I think the Open Data Law already requires you to put this online. . . . If I can’t make the tenant black list illegal. If a landlord taking a tenant to court is public information. If divorce proceedings are public information. If criminal proceedings, even when the person is acquitted, are public information, I think that a [BSA] application is public information.” Singer responded, saying, “It is public information subject FOIL requests, but we don’t believe it should be posted on our website.”

The legislation would also require City Planning to have a representative at every BSA hearing and to post all testimony. City Planning opposed the requirement. Alison McCabe, Assistant Counsel at the Department of City Planning, testified that while her agency keeps tabs on the BSA, it has only intervenes when it was “warranted.” City Planning relies heavily on individual borough offices for determining when City Planning testimony was warranted. “The fact that DCP is involved is news to me,” retorted Kallos.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The rezoning proposal is currently being reviewed by the Department of City Planning, and the group expects an answer on whether the city will move forward with a uniform land-use review process, or ULURP, in the next few weeks.

The process, which would begin as soon as DCP certifies the application, would take months to complete, requiring reviews by Community Board 6, the Manhattan Borough President, the City Planning Commission, and City Council.

But the proposal already has the support of key figures in that process, including Borough President Gale Brewer, CB6, and city council members including Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick.

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Friday, December 30, 2016

Per the de Blasio administration, “only 43 percent of working New Yorkers have access to a plan that can help them save for retirement,” but they are often subject to large fees, and “even those who have started to save do not have much: 40 percent of New Yorkers between the ages of 50 and 64 have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.”

The city-focused ruling from the Department of Labor, which applies only to municipalities of a certain size, comes after DOL paved the way for state-run programs earlier this year. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo already has a commission studying the issue. A state program could supercede a city one, though it would also depend on the details of the programs if the city were to launch one before the state. It is too early to tell which level of government will act first. In the city, Public Advocate James and City Council Member Ben Kallos are expected to lead on introducing legislation at the City Council, and the bill would likely go through Kallos' governmental operations committee.

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Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Thursday, December 29, 2016

Carnegie Hill Neighbors, a preservation group said it planned to file an administrative appeal, and is preparing to go to court if necessary to stop the project.

“I am not sure what kind of building you can build on a 10-by-22-foot lot but I sure wouldn’t want to live there,’ said Council member Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat, who is opposing the project.

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Friday, December 30, 2016

Even Yorkville’s city councilman, Ben Kallos, 35, who grew up in the neighborhood, is weighing how he and his wife can afford to stay in the district. He said there was little he could do to slow rising rents.

“Where I have to place much of my focus is on helping rent-regulated tenants stay in their apartment and exercise their rights,” said Mr. Kallos, a Democrat who has also pushed to set a height limit on so-called superscrapers in the neighborhoods he represents.

Austin Finan, a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said the administration’s top priority remained protecting affordable housing and building new units.

PhotoWorkers on Second Avenue between East 69th and East 70th Streets, completing work on the 72nd Street station. CreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

“We pursue that goal in every neighborhood in the city, including on the Upper East Side,” Mr. Finan said.

Across the United States, good transit access often leads to higher real estate prices, with home values near rapid transit in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix and San Francisco far outpacing other properties during the last recession, according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association.

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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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