New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Land Use

Bisnow The 'Dangerous' Ruling To Cut Down Skyscraper Could Reset Playing Field For NYC Developers by Miriam Hall

The 'Dangerous' Ruling To Cut Down Skyscraper Could Reset Playing Field For NYC Developers

A stunning decision from the New York State Supreme Court that could force developers to tear down already-built floors from their Manhattan skyscraper could have massive implications for other buildings in the city under construction — and possibly some that are already built.


Upper East Side Patch Tower Ruling May Endanger Upper East Side Development: Report by Brendan Krisel

Tower Ruling May Endanger Upper East Side Development: Report


UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A recent court ruling that could force Upper West Side developers to chop floors off of a controversial Amsterdam Avenue development may have a ripple effect on the other side of Central Park, according to new reports.

Upper East Side City Councilman Ben Kallos may use the ruling as the basis of a challenge against the super-tall development planned for 430 E. 58th St. in the small Sutton Place neighborhood, he told the New York Post. The building has long been the bane of neighborhood preservationists, who proposed and passed a Sutton Place rezoning plan to implement strict building height limits.




New York Post Court order ‘beheading’ UWS tower could impact another super tall building by Sam Raskin, Jennifer Gould Keil, Nolan Hicks

Court order ‘beheading’ UWS tower could impact another super tall building

An opportunistic lawmaker hopes to use a controversial ruling that would knock 20 stories off of a nearly-complete Upper West Side condo highrise to cut another building in Midtown down to size.

“We’re going to file a motion to [re]argue based on this,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who represents a swath of Midtown and the Upper East Side.

The lawmaker’s target is an 847-foot pencil-thin skyscraper currently under construction at 430 East 58th Street that he would like to see cut down to just 400 feet.

Real Estate Weekly Court orders top cut off skyscraper by Sabina Mollot

Court orders top cut off skyscraper

Manhattanites are rallying to chop the tops off so-called supertall skyscrapers.

A court last week ruled that SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan must demolish the top 20 floors of their skyscraper at 200 Amsterdam Avenue (pictured top) after Supreme Court Justice W. Franc Perry found they had flouted zoning regulations.

Now, activists are looking to apply the same rules to a second supertall at 430 East 58th Street.

“This groundbreaking decision averts a dangerous precedent that would have ultimately affected every corner of the city,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) which led the case against the 200 Amsterdam developers.

CBS New York Council Bill Proposes Ban On RoundUp Chemical Glyphosate Amid Cries Of ‘Environmental Racism’ by Vanessa Murdock

Council Bill Proposes Ban On RoundUp Chemical Glyphosate Amid Cries Of ‘Environmental Racism’

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The city has been decreasing its use of chemical pesticides over the past several years, but now there’s a call to stop using them entirely.

One organization says they’re using them more in communities of color declaring “environmental racism,” reports CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock.

“Poison Parks” is the claim of a special report just released by The Black Institute. They focus on New York City’s use of the chemical pesticide glyphosate, a likely carcinogen that’s found in the weed killer Roundup.

The Black Institute asserts the city engaged in “environmental racism” by using the pesticide more frequently and at higher concentrations in parks used by people of color.

“The specific problem is that folks on these communities, on a nice day they don’t go to the Hamptons upstate – they go to their local park in the city around them,” said Dan Hogle, campaign organizer at The Black Institute.

“The racial analysis in this report does not align with reality,” said the Parks Department when asked about the institute’s accusations.

The report, released Wednesday demands Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city council “ban the use of glyphosate.” It comes the same day members of the city council held a hearing on Bill 1524.

“This bill basically says glyphosate and other carcinogens can’t be sprayed on city property, particularly parks,” said District 5 Council Member Ben Kallos, the bill’s author.

Kallos introduced a similar bill years ago after listening to kindergarteners from PS 290 sing. Some of the same students showed up to testify.

“It will affect a lot of people in a positive way,” said Jesse Balsam, now an 11-year-old sixth-grader.

“I don’t want me, or any of my siblings, or anyone else I don’t even know from running around the park getting sick from the pesticides,” said 10-year-old Leo Balsam.

Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh says the Parks Department supports not using chemical pesticides but acknowledged it would limit managing invasive species.

“Estimate it would take three to five mechanical applications to replace one successful application of properly used and targeted herbicide,” he said.

Bill sponsors expressed confidence they have a veto-proof majority to get the bill passed this spring.

The Black Institute also wanted to see glyphosate banned at the state level.




Crain's New York Facade safety crackdown could boost sidewalk-shed reform bill by Ryan Deffenbaugh

Facade safety crackdown could boost sidewalk-shed reform bill

Department of Buildings officials pledged to hold building-owners "feet to the fire" after designer Erica Tishman was killed by a falling chunk of debris in Times Square last month. 

Councilman Ben Kallos praised the department's actions but warned against reliance on scaffolding.

"Ultimately the solution isn't just to put sidewalk sheds everywhere," Kallos said. "We need to get to a place where folks are actually doing the work to maintain their buildings."


No ‘Silver Bullet’ In a statement to THE CITY, Abigail Kunitz, a DOB spokesperson said, “Building owners are on notice as we continue with proactive inspections, strong enforcement actions, and direct outreach, to ensure they are held accountable for keeping their buildings safe.” Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) called the increased inspections a step in the right direction, but expressed concern about even further proliferating the sidewalk sheds that blanket many blocks. Kallos has been trying to push reforms for years in the hope of reducing the number of sheds by mandating repairs be done more quickly. “If there is the potential for a piece of a facade from a building to fall on somebody, I would prefer it gets fixed as soon as possible. And while that’s happening, there should be something to protect people who are going by,” he said. “But this whole idea of let’s just get the sidewalk sheds up and everyone will be saved — it is far from a silver bullet.”

Brooklyn Daily Eagle One homeless shelter provider in Brooklyn has racked up hundreds of violations by Noah Goldberg

One homeless shelter provider in Brooklyn has racked up hundreds of violations

A Brooklyn-based nonprofit has racked up nearly 300 open violations at five different homeless shelters across the borough — and it runs all five of the “cluster sites” with the most violations in Brooklyn, according to the most recent city-released statistics.

Core Services Group Inc. operates 40 “emergency or transitional housing settings,” providing “critical services” to at least 3,000 people, according to the organization’s website. The nonprofit runs at least 20 shelters and cluster sites in New York City and provides at least 800 beds of emergency, transitional and shelter-based housing, according to the city. It also operates shelters in Washington D.C.

Cluster sites are temporary apartments that house people experiencing homelessness in privately owned buildings. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced first in 2016 that he planned on getting rid of cluster sites as one of the options the city uses to house the homeless by 2019, partially due to the “bad conditions” of many of the sites. At the time there were 3,000 units of cluster site housing.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

“That number of violations in units is not acceptable,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin, who chairs the Committee on General Welfare, on Monday.

The City Council held an oversight hearing on Monday regarding the Department of Homeless Services and its contracts with nonprofit groups running some of the city’s shelters.

“In Brooklyn, it appears Core Services Group is running cluster sites that typically have more violations than shelters. Today, [the Department of Homeless Services] reiterated that these cluster sites will be phased out over the next two years at which point we hope to see fewer violations,” Councilmember Ben Kallos told the Brooklyn Eagle at the hearing. “DHS and the city need to stay on top of these providers making sure violations are handled and that conditions are suitable for New Yorkers.”

There were nearly 49,000 people staying in the city’s shelter system as of Sunday.

Molly Park, the first deputy commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, said at the hearing that the city plans on closing all cluster sites by 2021.

Core Services Group does not operate the cluster sites with the most open violations in the city — the 12 sites with the most violations are all in the Bronx, including one site, run by nonprofit group Aguila, that has racked up a whopping 197 open violations.

Core Services Group also operates homeless shelters in the city — and is slated to operate the shelter in Queens that has elicited anti-homeless rhetoric in the borough. It also operates a shelter in Washington Heights where a man’s decaying body was found weeks after his death.

Kallos, who chairs the Committee on Contracts, asked DHS brass Monday if the city is stuck with vendors who struggle to run sites without violations.

“Why do certain providers who consistently have violations … still see DHS continue to award or renew contracts? For example, Acacia currently has 1,184 open violations. Are we as a city stuck with specific vendors?” he asked. (Acacia Network Housing Inc., a Bronx-based nonprofit, is currently being probed by the Department of Investigation, according to the Wall Street Journal.)

Park responded that most open violations occur in cluster sites and not in other types of homeless shelters, like commercial hotels where the city houses people experiencing homelessness.

While DHS plans on closing down all the cluster sites by 2021, Kallos hopes the city will focus on first shutting down the sites run by providers like Core Services Group with high numbers of open violations.

Core Services Group declined to comment and referred all questions about the cluster sites they operate back to DHS.

DHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment on how much money the city contracts to Core Services Group.

New York Daily News Manhattan NYCHA tenants in court to push for overdue repairs by Michael Gartland

Manhattan NYCHA tenants in court to push for overdue repairs

“Every week, my office responds to calls from NYCHA tenants seeking assistance with repairs for broken elevators, vermin infestations, lack of heat and hot water and broken intercoms,” Maloney (D-Manhattan) said. “It is unacceptable that anyone is made to live in these conditions, and that residents often file multiple work order requests for the same issue without ever receiving a response from NYCHA.”

City Councilman Ben Kallos, a fellow Manhattan Democrat, said he fields similar calls, especially this time of year.

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“This is to make sure the repairs actually get done,” he said of the legal filings.

New York Post New York can end its insane scaffolding plague by New York Post Editorial

New York can end its insane scaffolding plague

City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-UES) has a couple of bills to force landlords to take scaffolding down more rapidly, but the real estate industry fights furiously to avoid the added costs.

What’s needed is leadership to forge some compromise to end a mess unique to New York. If cities can avoid eternal scaffolding everywhere else in the world, it can be done here, too.