“The city has been complicit in ignoring the law in order to help a developer beat the community,” Council member Ben Kallos, who helped lead the charge for the rezoning, said in a statement. “If [Jonathan] Kalikow’s behavior is any indication of what the city is prepared to let developers get away with, then no law on the books will prevent developers from abusing the system and winning, until the courts step in.”
The Real Deal With or Without Grandfather Clause, Gamma Says 800-Foot Tower is Happening by Kathryn Brenzel
Last week, the City Planning Commission approved a controversial rezoning of 10 blocks in Sutton Place but included a clause that would exempt Gamma’s project from the change. Local Council member Ben Kallos, who is a co-sponsor of the rezoning application, is pushing to have the grandfather clause removed before the full council votes on the measure. The rezoning will impose “tower on a base” standards in the area, which means that 45 to 50 percent of a building would need to be built below 150 feet.
Kallos said the grandfather clause might be a “red herring” for extending the rezoning process for another two weeks or so. A change to the application, like removing the clause, would send the measure back to City Planning for review, giving Gamma more time to complete the foundation.
The Real Deal City Planning Clears the Way for Sutton Place Tower. But Can it Survive the City Council? by Kathryn Brenzel
The application now heads to the City Council, where chances don’t look great for Gamma to escape the zoning change. Local Council member Ben Kallos, who backed the a local community group’s efforts to rezone the area, indicated that he plans to remove the grandfathering clause from the application. The City Council tends to defer to the local council member when it comes to land use applications. The council is expected to vote on the zoning change by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, ERFA proposed its rezoning plan to limit the heights of buildings and create a new inclusionary housing zone that would allow developers to build up to 350 feet if they include affordable units in their projects. The proposal has garnered the support of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council members Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos and state Sen. Liz Krueger, but it has not yet received the crucial approval from City Planning.
Kallos, who helped co-found ERFA, said the group is made up of more than 2,000 people across 45 buildings in the area. The Council member said the rezoning effort is spurred by the fact that construction in his district is rampant and residents are seeing very little affordable housing created in the area.
"You can literally walk anywhere in my district and see one construction site from another construction site,” said Kallos, who told TRD that he wanted to step in to prevent “another 432 Park Avenue” from towering over the city. “People in my district are getting development fatigue.”
One of the more contentious bills would require construction workers involved in projects of a certain size that receive $1 million or more in any kind of government assistance to receive state-approved training. Contractors would be required to participate in apprenticeship programs approved by the New York State Department of Labor if working on projects that are 100,000 square feet or more or have 50 or more residential units. A similar bill was introduced in 2013, but was revived by Council member Ben Kallos. Kallos noted on Wednesday that since 2012, 72 percent of construction-related accidents occurred on sites where contractors didn’t participate in apprenticeship programs.
“No one should die from a construction accident that could have been prevented with proper education, apprenticeship, and protections for a worker’s right to say no to a dangerous situation,” he said in a statement.
Brian Sampson, president of the New York chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, a nonunion organization, said the bill wrongly equates the apprenticeship programs with safety. He argued that the law would force workers to either join a union — since unions already participate in the programs — or apply for a program independently, which can take six to 18 months. He said this is likely to put hundreds of workers out of jobs.
The Real Deal Tale of two tech companies: NYC welcomes Uber, while Airbnb faces new restrictions by Kathryn Brenzel
“Uber engages with regulators and complies with regulation,” City Council member Ben Kallos said. “And Airbnb does whatever it wants in violation of the law.”
New proposed legislation aims to help tenants blacklisted for their history in housing court.
Councilman Benjamin Kallos on Tuesday introduced legislation to the council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that would force screening companies to provide landlords with fuller descriptions of housing court cases. The measure is intended to combat overzealous tenant blacklists, which are compiled by tenant-screening data companies based on housing court records.
Housing attorneys argue that the blacklist is riddled with errors and fails to show when a tenant won a case, the New York Times reported. After two years of being homeless, Margot Miller, 68, recently was denied housing at an apartment for low-income seniors when the owner discovered that she had been sued by her previous landlord.