New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Joe Anuta

Crain's New York Push for Height Limits Extended Across Entire Upper East Side by Joe Anuta

Push for Height Limits Extended Across Entire Upper East Side

 

We are getting ready to fight,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, a critic of residential skyscrapers who supports the board’s proposal and is working to advance it from idea to reality. He has reason to be hopeful.

The City Planning Commission held a hearing last week on another proposal in Kallos’ district that would limit heights in Sutton Place.

Crain's New York City demands construction-accident data from employers by Joe Anuta

City demands construction-accident data from employers

On Thursday, a worker named Juan Chonillo fell to his death from a Fortis Property Group project in lower Manhattan. He was employed by a non-union firm called SSC High Rise Construction. Hours later, a 45-year-old worker employer by union subcontractor EJ Electric fell to his death at Brookfield Property's Manhattan West—the second fatality on the site in four months. The Department of Buildings said Monday that contractors in both instances have supplied the administration with the required data.

The legislation, sponsored by City Councilman Ben Kallos, was among a suite of construction bills passed earlier this year. Lawmakers are set to pass a controversial construction training bill on Wednesday

Crain's New York Council takes aim at developers who plead poverty to evade zoning by Joe Anuta

Council takes aim at developers who plead poverty to evade zoning

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.

Crain's New York Residents file plans to curb supertall towers in tony Manhattan neighborhood by Joe Anuta

Residents file plans to curb supertall towers in tony Manhattan neighborhood

“Billionaire’s Row keeps growing and we are drawing the line at a residential neighborhood,” said City Councilman Benjamin Kallos, who represents the neighborhood and backs the plan, which was delivered to the Department of City Planning.

Crain's New York City plans to appeal case that favored crane-operator union by Joe Anuta

City plans to appeal case that favored crane-operator union

Meanwhile, a bill in the City Council that was introduced to do an end-run around the court case altogether has been sitting in the Committee on Housing and Buildings for years. The legislation would have codified the rules favorably to Local 14.

"I don't want to trust the safety of our people to a national exam when we need to make sure [operators] are prepared to do the work and have the experience here," said City Councilman Benjamin Kallos, the sponsor of the proposed legislation.

The bill has a veto-proof 34 co-sponsors. But with the city's Law Department on the opposite side, the mayor would not be likely to ever sign it.