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About Ben Kallos

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos was praised by the New York Times for his “fresh ideas” and elected in 2013 to represent the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and East Harlem along with all 8.4 million New Yorkers in the New York City Council.  He grew up on the Upper East Side with his mother, who still lives in the neighborhood, and his grandparents, who fled anti-Semitism in Europe. As Vice-Chair of the Jewish Caucus he has been an ardent advocate for Israel and supporter of Jewish causes.

As Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee where he has sought to root out patronage, de-privatize government, eliminate billions in waste, expand elections, and to use technology to improve access to government.  He has become a leading advocate for education, affordable housing, public health, sustainable development and transportation improvements and safety.  His office is open and transparent, with constituents invited to decide on how to spend one million dollars on local projects in the district as well as to join him in a conversation on the First Friday of each month, or he will go to them if they can gather ten neighbors for “Ben In Your Building.”

Most Recent Newsletter

December News: Victory Against Overdevelopment, Online Voter Registration, New Parks and Gyms, Scaffolding and Town Hall with Mayor

Dear Neighbor,

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, I remain most thankful for your support. With a new low in voter turnout I was able to pass legislation I authored to provide Online Voter Registration through the City Council to make it easier to register and vote.

On the last day of November the City Council voted to rezone the East Fifties and stop the march of super-tall buildings for billionaires from 57th Street into the Sutton Area. Within minutes of the vote and our rezoning becoming law, an order was issued and all work was stopped at one of the potential sites in the district for a super-tall building for billionaires at 58 Sutton.  This was the culmination of a three year first of its kind grass-roots community rezoning. After years of out-of-control out-of-scale over-development I wanted to put residents over real estate, and we did.

With construction all around us, we are fighting to keep it safe, passing the Crane Modernization Act and continuing our advocacy to get unnecessary scaffolding down especially following a recent collapse injuring six.

We are fighting for more public spaces with the opening of Andrew Haswell Green Park Phase 2A at 60th Street on the Esplanade, passing new laws requiring building owners to open public plazas with signage detailing required amenities with steep fines for non-compliance, and working with Spence to share their new Field House during school hours with public schools that have no regulation physical education space like P.S. 151 and P.S. 527.

Our bike safety program has found new partners, brought 10% of all e-bike enforcement to our neighborhood, and continued to deliver results.

I hope to see you on Tuesday, December 5 at 5PM, for our annual office holiday party, and again on Thursday, December 7 at 8pm (note the time change), where you can ask Mayor Bill de Blasio questions at his Town Hall for the Upper East Side.

Regards,
Ben Kallos
Council Member

P.S. Happy holidays and have a happy New Year! If you’d like to pick up free Menorahs, you can do so at my office (donated by Chabad YP).

SPECIAL EVENTS

12/7, 8PM - 10PM
Mayoral Town Hall

1/7, 1PM-3PM
State of the District


DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

12/1, 8AM-10AM
First Friday

12/5, 5PM – 7PM
Holiday Party

12/12, 6PM-7PM
Brainstorming with Ben

 

HEADLINES

  1. Victory on Sutton Area Rezoning at City Council (Without Grandfather Clause)
  2. Scaffolding Collapse Renews Outcry for Bill to Get Them Down
  3. More Public Spaces to Be Opened to Public Under New Bill Passed by Council
  4. Online Voter Registration is Passed By the Council

EDUCATION

  1. New Gym Space For Public Schools Students from Spence

PARKS & ENVIRONMENT

  1. Andrew Haswell Green Park Ribbon Cutting
  2. Banning Pesticides in Parks Gains Support
  3. Save the Sound

TRANSPORTATION

  1. Bike Safety Program Gets Results
  2. Straphangers Campaign Recognized for 40 Years of Service
  3. Ben in Your Building Discussing Ed Koch Bridge On-Ramp

JOBS & ECONOMY

  1. Crane Safety Legisaltion Passes
  2. The Fight Against Hunger With Brian Lehrer
  3. API Access Available to the Public on City Council Website
  4. Open Camps
  5. Kicking Off Anime NYC Inaugural Weekend
  6. Protesting the DNAInfo and Gothamist Shutdown
  7. Phipps Neighborhood Building Service Worker Protest

COMMUNITY

  1. Fourth Annual Turkey Giveaway
  2. Roosevelt Island Community Coalition Awards
  3. East Side Taskforce on Homeless Outreach and Services Prompts Partnerships

OFFICE UPDATES

  1. Legislative Corner
  2. Free Legal Clinics
  3. Here to Help
  4. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS

  1. City Council Events
  2. Community Board Meetings
  3. New York City Police Department
  4. Community Events For Adults
  5. Community Events For Children

Updates

Press Release
Thursday, December 7, 2017

Geographic Diversity Tracking Bill Passes Vote in Education Committee
 Legislation Aims to Measure Diversity in NYC Public Schools
  New York, NY – Today the City Council’s Education Committee passed legislation that would measure the number of children from each neighborhood who apply to attend a particular school, the number of seats available at each school, how many offers of admission were made, and total enrollment in all public schools. The bill introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos will also require the Department of Education (DOE) to issue reports on the number of individuals who applied for, received offers for, and enrolled in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, sixth and ninth grade in DOE schools. 

The reporting required under the legislation will show the current geographic diversity in NYC schools, whether there are sufficient numbers of school seats in each neighborhood, and how many children are being turned away from the public school system because the City lacks the capacity to allow children to attend school in the neighborhood in which they live. The information would be reported by community school district and by individual school. The information would be disaggregated by grade level, community school district of residence of individuals, primary home language of individuals, and zip code of individuals.

“The fact is we need more school seats and we need more transparency from the Department of Education. We have a growing city and the more useful data we can get the better our children will be served,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “The Mayor’s promise of ‘Pre-Kindergarten for All’ must include enough seats in every neighborhood, including the Upper East Side. Parents in my district are giving up on our public schools and with it our government and parents who can’t afford private school are being forced out."
According to records obtained by Council Member Kallos in 2015, 54% of would-be pre-kindergarteners on the Upper East Side were not offered school seats in their zip codes. For the 2017-2018 school year, more than 900 four-year-olds applied for a total of 596 seats available for this school year. A decrease of 22 seats from the previous school year. This means that at least one in three four-year-olds will not be offered a seat in their neighborhood.

In 2016, in School District 2, which spans from the Financial District to the Upper East Side, 1,696 preschoolers took the Gifted and Talented exam, 838 of whom were deemed eligible for the program, and 652 applied. However, according to Department of Education, only 346 received offers, leaving 47% of applicants, a total of 306 preschoolers, without access to the coveted program.

The aforementioned data for these two programs indicates a larger problem which extends to general enrollment. This legislation seeks the data from the DOE needed to enact changes in order to give the City Council the ability to do so.  

Read more

Press Coverage
REAL ESTATE WEEKLY
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gamma Real Estate will challenge the decision in front of the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, or BSA, a process Kalikow said he believes will be “very objective, very black and white” because of how much progress was made on the site prior to the zoning change.

If the BSA does not grant the appeal, the developer has already taken steps for a potential lawsuit, Kalikow said, including sending a letter to Councilman Ben Kallos, telling him not to delete any emails related to the case.

Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, has championed the re-zoning effort at city hall since a group of his constituents raised the issue in 2015. He said had the proposed change not been stuck in the preapproval stage for more than a year, it would have passed through the council well before construction began on the site.

Read more

Press Coverage
CBS New York
Monday, December 4, 2017

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Construction on upscale condominiumshas been stopped in its tracks on Manhattan’s east side.

New zoning rules now say the controversial tower is too tall.

It’s known as Sutton 58 — the site of a 62-story condo building under construction.

Last Thursday, a City Council vote to limit the construction of tall towers on side streets in the area, led to a stop-work order.

“New Yorkers are sick and tired of out-of-control, out-of-scale overdevelopment, and for so very long, no one would stand up for real estate,” City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th) said.

Read more

Press Coverage
Crain's New York

Last week City Councilman Ben Kallos shepherded through his chamber a 10-block rezoning of the Sutton Place area that will result in shorter and squatter buildings than are currently allowed. He said they would fit in with the varied character of the tony enclave without sacrificing too much of the square footage that could be built in the future. While that sounds like a reasonable proposal, his motivation was far different. Kallos and a group of residents known as the East River Fifties Alliance wanted to zone out of existence a luxury condo tower being built along East 58th Street. To do so, they pushed the limits of the city's land-use rules in the same way that developers are often criticized for doing.

So blatant was their gambit that the City Planning Commission put a clause in the rezoning to protect the 800-foot project. But Kallos removed it and then fast-tracked his legislation's approval to ensure the developer, Gamma Real Estate, could not complete a foundation in time to squeak in under the old zoning rules.

Read more

Press Coverage
Ed Scoop
Monday, December 4, 2017

“Access to reliable, high-speed internet is no longer a luxury. In 2017, it is a necessity,” said Ben Kallos, member of the New York City Council. “Whether you are a small business competing for customers or a high school student doing homework, access to broadband could make the difference between landing a big contract or not, or getting an A on a research paper. I applaud this administration's efforts as New York City works toward universal broadband access."

 
Read more

Newsletter
Dear Neighbor,

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, I remain most thankful for your support. With a new low in voter turnout I was able to pass legislation I authored to provide Online Voter Registration through the City Council to make it easier to register and vote.

On the last day of November the City Council voted to rezone the East Fifties and stop the march of super-tall buildings for billionaires from 57th Street into the Sutton Area. Within minutes of the vote and our rezoning becoming law, an order was issued and all work was stopped at one of the potential sites in the district for a super-tall building for billionaires at 58 Sutton.  This was the culmination of a three year first of its kind grass-roots community rezoning. After years of out-of-control out-of-scale over-development I wanted to put residents over real estate, and we did.

With construction all around us, we are fighting to keep it safe, passing the Crane Modernization Act and continuing our advocacy to get unnecessary scaffolding down especially following a recent collapse injuring six.

We are fighting for more public spaces with the opening of Andrew Haswell Green Park Phase 2A at 60th Street on the Esplanade, passing new laws requiring building owners to open public plazas with signage detailing required amenities with steep fines for non-compliance, and working with Spence to share their new Field House during school hours with public schools that have no regulation physical education space like P.S. 151 and P.S. 527.

Our bike safety program has found new partners, brought 10% of all e-bike enforcement to our neighborhood, and continued to deliver results.

I hope to see you on Tuesday, December 5 at 5PM, for our annual office holiday party, and again on Thursday, December 7 at 8pm (note the time change), where you can ask Mayor Bill de Blasio questions at his Town Hall for the Upper East Side.

Regards,
Ben Kallos
Council Member

P.S. Happy holidays and have a happy New Year! If you’d like to pick up free Menorahs, you can do so at my office (donated by Chabad YP).

SPECIAL EVENTS

12/7, 8PM - 10PM
Mayoral Town Hall

1/7, 1PM-3PM
State of the District


DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

12/1, 8AM-10AM
First Friday

12/5, 5PM – 7PM
Holiday Party

12/12, 6PM-7PM
Brainstorming with Ben

 

HEADLINES

  1. Victory on Sutton Area Rezoning at City Council (Without Grandfather Clause)
  2. Scaffolding Collapse Renews Outcry for Bill to Get Them Down
  3. More Public Spaces to Be Opened to Public Under New Bill Passed by Council
  4. Online Voter Registration is Passed By the Council

EDUCATION

  1. New Gym Space For Public Schools Students from Spence

PARKS & ENVIRONMENT

  1. Andrew Haswell Green Park Ribbon Cutting
  2. Banning Pesticides in Parks Gains Support
  3. Save the Sound

TRANSPORTATION

  1. Bike Safety Program Gets Results
  2. Straphangers Campaign Recognized for 40 Years of Service
  3. Ben in Your Building Discussing Ed Koch Bridge On-Ramp

JOBS & ECONOMY

  1. Crane Safety Legisaltion Passes
  2. The Fight Against Hunger With Brian Lehrer
  3. API Access Available to the Public on City Council Website
  4. Open Camps
  5. Kicking Off Anime NYC Inaugural Weekend
  6. Protesting the DNAInfo and Gothamist Shutdown
  7. Phipps Neighborhood Building Service Worker Protest

COMMUNITY

  1. Fourth Annual Turkey Giveaway
  2. Roosevelt Island Community Coalition Awards
  3. East Side Taskforce on Homeless Outreach and Services Prompts Partnerships

OFFICE UPDATES

  1. Legislative Corner
  2. Free Legal Clinics
  3. Here to Help
  4. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS

  1. City Council Events
  2. Community Board Meetings
  3. New York City Police Department
  4. Community Events For Adults
  5. Community Events For Children
Read more

Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Sunday, December 3, 2017

Mr. Kalikow put much of the blame for the shutdown on the local councilman, Ben Kallos, a Democrat. Mr. Kallos signed the application for the zoning change, along with the East River 50s Alliance, and pressed officials to expedite it.

Mr. Kallos’s support was crucial in the council as other members followed his lead on the issue, a courtesy usually extended on local land-use issues.

“I take full credit for it,” Mr. Kallos said, after hearing of Mr. Kalikow’s complaints. He said the developer is welcome to pursue his rights under the law, but that eventually he might find there already are too many super-tall buildings “intended for billionaires.”

Read more

Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Friday, December 1, 2017

The cobblestone-paved road has been a a vital open space in the neighborhood for nearly four decades, City Councilman Ben Kallos said Friday.

"When I got elected four years ago I promised I would protect as much open space as possible," Kallos said Friday. "Everyone here on the Upper East Side knows that we don't have enough open space and we rank among the last in the city for open space." Kallos said Friday.

 

Read more

Press Release
Friday, December 1, 2017

James Cagney Place Officially Designated a City Plaza

After 42 Years, Closed Section of East 91st Street Becomes Official Plaza

New York, NY,– Residents at James Cagney Place today, welcomed the news that a section of East 91st Street that has been closed to vehicular traffic for more than 40 years -- and renamed James Cagney Place in 1989 -- was officially recognized as a Pedestrian Plaza under the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT)  NYC Plaza program Round 10. The award notice came after three years of effort by Community Board 8 Members Rita Popper and Dave Rosenstein, with support from Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and in partnership with sponsor Ruppert-Yorkville (R-Y) Management, which helped form Friends of James Cagney Place LLC.

In 2017, the Friends of James Cagney Place organized free events including a jazz festival, movie night, Halloween Parade, and the tree lighting to build community support and demonstrate the import of a protected plaza as a community resource. These events are in addition to daily use by residents walking their dogs, seniors enjoying passive recreation, and children sledding on this section of Carnegie Hill when it snows.

Read more

Newsletter

Yesterday, the New York City Council voted to rezone the East Fifties and stop the march of super-tall buildings for billionaires from 57th Street into the Sutton Area. Within minutes of the vote and our rezoning becoming law, an order was issued and all work was stopped at one of the potential sites in the district for a super-tall building for billionaires at 58 Sutton.

This was the culmination of a three year first of its kind grass-roots community rezoning. After years of out-of-control out-of-scale over-development I wanted to put residents over real estate, and we did.

In 2015, we founded the East River Fifties Alliance, which has grown to 45 buildings in the area, and 2,600 individuals from 500 buildings all over the city with support from Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, CIVITAS, and citywide organizations like the Municipal Arts Society. Council Member Dan Garodnick, Senator Liz Krueger, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer joined me as co-applicants, and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney joined in support.
 
This happened thanks to the support of residents like you. Heroes like Herndon Werth and Charles Fernandez stood up to buyouts and threats from billionaires. Leaders like Dieter Seelig, former President of the Sutton Area Community got us started and Alan Kersh, Robert Shepler, Jessica Osborn, and Lisa Mercurio put countless volunteer hours into ERFA.
 
We did something no one thought could be done. They kept saying we would never rezone before they finished their foundation. We did just that yesterday and the work stopped just before they could finish their foundation or any other potential site in the neighborhood.
 
The rezoning removed the grandfather clause and will protect the Sutton Area East of First Avenue from 52nd to 59th st from supertall towers by limiting zoning lot mergers, limiting the width of towers, and forcing most of the air rights to be used in the base of a building.
 
The new developer had previously made thinly veiled threats to retaliate with inspiration from “The Count of Monte Cristo” and has promised to appeal, but we will continue to fight for you and to protect our community.
 
If you haven’t already, please share your support on our petition at BenKallos.com/petition/StopSuperScrapers
 
Please also consider financially supporting the East River Fifties Alliance at ERFA.nyc/donate

Read more