New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

Displacing single-use bottles is an issue that Mark Chambers, the City Hall official in charge of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, said was related to a fundamental question of urban life: “How do we change our relationship to waste?”

Obviously, it is a question that has come up often as the country has debated pollution and environmental consciousness has surged. In April, Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr., a Democrat from Brooklyn, and Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat from the Upper East Side, proposed a ban on selling disposable plastic bottles in city-run parks, golf courses and beaches. The measure would cover soft drinks and juices as well as water. Other proposals would ban plastic straws that can be used only once, or plastic bags.

Mr. Chambers sees Bring It and the S’well bottles as “a great opportunity for us to make a strong public statement around why this matters” — and it is a statement that can be made without having to wait for a City Council vote.


When asked if he wonders why it took the city so long to do it, parent Edward Finkil said, “Yeah, I thought they did it. I thought that was something you do with the job.”

“I think there’s a lot of those things that you take for granted. You assume that your children are in the care of background-checked people, but I think sometimes that’s a false assumption,” added Chelsea parent Corynne Razos.

The city is also moving the unit which investigates bus driver complaints into its Office of Special Investigations, CBS2’s Kramer reported.

This also comes as City Councilman Ben Kallos has introduced a bill to outfit all school buses with GPS systems to help track buses and pupils who don’t show up.


Kallos’ bill also requires OPT to provide real-time GPS data via an authorized app to parents and school administrators. An app-based program would eliminate having bus drivers and escorts fielding frantic and angry calls from parents and administrators — when they should be focused on getting the children to and from home safely.

Although all special-ed buses and two-thirds of contracted school buses have “Navman” GPS devices installed, the DOE lags behind other school districts that have deployed pupil-transport tracking technology for parents and administrators.

Meanwhile, like other parents who complained, Susie was told that adjusted routes would be forthcoming soon to make Max’s commute shorter. We’re still waiting.



“We are now taking big strides in fulfilling the need for Pre-K seats on the Upper East Side. Building by building we are working with the City to open up more pre-kindergarten seats so that every four-year-old in my district can get the benefits of Pre K without having to commute an hour away,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you the School Construction Authority for the work on the facility and to the Department of Education for helping us get this new facility open and serving the community.”


“From every indication, jointly operated parks are treated like parkland,” said City Council member Ben Kallos, who represents East Harlem, and the Upper East Side, among other neighborhoods. “In fact, the Marx Brothers Playground went through New York State authorization as if it was, in fact, parkland. Seems like everyone involved, including the City and State, believe this playground was, in fact, a park. Government must eliminate the baseless distinctions between parks in order to protect our playgrounds and green spaces from overdevelopment,”


UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A new universal pre-k facility has added 90 seats to the Upper East Side, which means 90 families no longer have to trek down to Lower Manhattan to send their children to school, city officials announced Wednesday.

The new 11,500-square-foot facility on the corner of Third Avenue and East 95th Street opened on time for the 2018-2019 school year and is part of a push to add pre-k seats to the Upper East Side neighborhood, city officials said.


The advocates seem to have an ally on the council in local representative Ben Kallos, who advocated for the end to "baseless distinctions between parks in order to protect our playgrounds and green spaces from overdevelopment," Curbed reported.

Most city representatives refrained from answer questions regarding the Marx Brothers Playground development during Monday's hearing due to the pending lawsuit against the city, Curbed reported.

The Marx Brother's Playground is known as a Jointly Operated Playgrounds (JOP), of which there are currently about 267 in the city. The city started creating JOPs in the 1930s when the city Department of Education agreed to provide land next to school spaces to be maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation for recreational purposes, according to City Council records. All JOPs are still maintained by the Department of Parks and recreation and most are located in low-income communities. Abot 116 of the remaining JOPs are located in Community Parks Initiative zones that are described as low-income and high-density.


"Any pedestrian who has tried to cross under the Queensboro Bridge on Second Avenue knows it is not safe, and while the new subway runs in both directions, residents of the Upper East Side who travel above ground via bicycle have no safe route downtown,"


To encourage smaller donors, the commission also recommended boosting the current 6-to-1 match of public funds to 8-to-1 and to increase the maximum amount matched from $175 to $250 for the citywide candidates.

So a mayoral candidate who got a $250 contribution from a New York City resident would collect an extra $2,000 in public matching funds.

“It’s up to New Yorkers to vote big money out of politics this November,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who helped draft the changes adopted by the commission.


"I was hoping for a lot more," said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who sponsored the series of bills along with former Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

"It would be news to me if any agency was actually following this law," Kallos said.

The other two bills required agencies to be more precise in writing out the property and person responsible for the violations in an effort to prevent New Yorkers from weaseling out of tickets


It is unacceptable to have to wait a decade for Upper East Side's transportation improvements to materialize.

Underground, it took 10 years for the Second Avenue subway construction to be completed. Now we can't wait another 10 years for a safer design of Second Avenue at street level.

Any pedestrian who has tried to cross under the Queensboro Bridge on Second Avenue knows it is not safe, and while the new subway runs in both directions, residents of the Upper East Side who travel above ground via bicycle have no safe route downtown Community Board 8's Transportation Committee. But we can work with the city to change this, by demanding Second Avenue safety improvements at next tomorrow's public session of. Second Avenue needs a road diet, and the Department of Transportation is proposing just that, with the addition of five proposed crosswalks, two new pedestrian islands at 59th Street, and the continuation of the parking-protected bike lane from 68th Street to 60th Street.


Construction-related deaths have doubled and injuries have surged 17 percent as building booms in the Big Apple.

Eight people have died in construction accidents in the first seven months of the year, compared to four over the same time frame in 2017, according to the city Buildings Department.

Through July of this year, 469 people were injured in 457 accidents on the job, the DOB says.

The latest construction-related death, according to DOB records, happened inside a West Village residential building at 36 Grove St. A live wire electrocuted a hardhat on July 16.


The proposed legislation – sponsored by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) — isn’t an outright ban since it allows parents to request soda or other sugary beverages when placing their order.

“We want our kids to have access to healthy choices, and the default beverage options under this bill supports that goal,” said Johnson.


City Council member Ben Kallos currently has a bill that would allow scaffolding to remain standing for only six months after it was first installed. For all our sakes, let’s hope this long-delayed law is somehow passed. Indeed, it seems like a crime that such a stylish city with some of the slickest architecture in the world should be endlessly covered with these green metal monstrosities.


"The Upper East Side is thrilled to finally have our very own NYC Ferry stop along the Soundview route," City Councilman Ben Kallos said in a statement. "NYC Ferry continues to connect New Yorkers to our waterfront while reducing the burden on our City's public transportation system while helping New Yorkers get from A to B quicker, easier and more enjoyably."

Transit options for Upper East Siders have dramatically improved since the beginning of 2017 with the opening of the Second Avenue Subway and now with the launch of the East 90th Street ferry. Neighborhood residents living closer to the East River were previously forced to bet on the city's often-unreliable bus service or walk all the way to the Lexington Avenue line for the subway.


“A lot of the people who own these buildings do not act responsibly and they don’t start repairs before problems start,” McDermott said, citing why many buildings have severe damage.

Nearly two years ago, City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill that would require sheds to be taken down when construction is inactive. Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) has sponsored the bill, which was reintroduced this year after a new section was implemented.

The bill proposes that all unsafe conditions are corrected within 90 days of a critical examination report being filed. A commissioner may grant a 90-day extension upon review of the building’s progress.

“This is a safety issue, by and large,” Holden told the Chronicle. “We aren’t saying remove sidewalks sheds where buildings are unsafe, so there are exemptions of the law. There’s a balance.”

Holden said that he is confident that the bill will pass. Kallos, he said, is thorough in his thoughts and what he wants to see come of the proposal. He also said that he is a proponent of the bill and signed it because Holden himself proposed a bill similar to Kallos’. This one seems to be more active, as Holden said it “would probably pass.”


Kallos tapped his discretionary funds to buy five security cameras for the northern blocks — each with a live 24/7 feed to the 17th Precinct — and Powers dipped into his Council funds to purchase two more for the culs-de-sac as far south as Beekman Place and 50th Street.

They don’t come cheap: Each camera will cost $35,000 for an overall tab of $245,000. It wasn’t immediately clear when they will be installed.

“Soon, the 17th Precinct will have eyes on the park — and it will be able to respond instantaneously and even proactively,” Kallos said in an Aug. 3 press conference at the river-facing dead end on East 54th Street.


The project has a tortured history that began in 2015, when Connecticut developer Joseph Beninati bought a run of small apartment buildings and filed plans for a 950-foot condo tower. He later lost the site to lender Gamma Real Estate, led by Richard Kalikow.

During the protracted foreclosure process, a neighborhood group aligned with City Councilman Ben Kallos was able to gain approval for a rezoning that prohibited such a large structure there. Because Gamma had not started work on the 800-foot tower before the rezoning, Sutton 58 appeared to be kaput. But in late June, a city board granted the project an exemption. Now Gamma is building, and the neighborhood group is planning to sue.

Get the popcorn ready.


Starting in 2019, NYPD security cameras will be installed at seven locations in the mostly-residential neighborhoods, City Councilman Ben Kallos and Keith Powers said. Both council representatives pitched in to fund the cameras after a proposal gained broad support during the last participatory budgeting cycle, but not enough votes to secure funding.

"We're here to talk about quality of life and making sure that every park in our neighborhood has the best quality of life and is as safe as possible," Kallos said Friday.