New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

In 2012, Dewayne Anthony Lee Johnson took a job as groundskeeper for a California county school district. “I did everything,” he said in an interview with Time magazine. “Caught skunks, mice, and raccoons, patched holes in walls, worked on irrigation issues.”

He also treated the school grounds with Roundup weed killer, about twenty to thirty times a year and sometimes for several hours a day. On one occasion, the pesticide sprayer broke, drenching Johnson in the herbicide. Afterward, a rash broke out and skin lesions spread across his body.


“The point of city planning is to have predictability and we have a zoning text that has been under attack by people looking for loopholes, and the newest is these gerrymandered lots,” says Upper East Side City Council member Ben Kallos, who requested the study and has staunchly advocated for the city to crack down on the practice. “The point is to restore the predictability.”

In a May 13 letter to Marisa Lago, the director of the DCP, Kallos suggested applying lot restrictions already in place for residential properties to all zoning districts, with a certification process for instances where carving out a tiny lot is legitimate. In low-density neighborhoods zoned for single-family, detached homes, for instance, the minimum lot area is 9,500 square feet and the minimum lot width is 100 feet. Another solution could be creating a “Minimum Distance Between Lot Lines” restriction, Kallos suggested.


ALBANY — The flashing red lights and stop sign should be enough – but a staggering number of drivers blatantly ignore the warnings and blow past stopped school buses on a daily basis, according to video obtained by the Daily News on Friday.


City Councilman Ben Kallos praised the project as a win for the neighborhood because it proves that below-market housing can be built on the Upper East Side despite the expensive cost of real estate. Extell bought the site for $14 million in 2014, according to city Department of Finance records.

Extell Development is using 421A and Mandatory Inclusionary Hosing subsidies at the building, developers said.


New York City recently passed a trailblazing new piece of legislation that is set to propel the Big Apple towards the forefront of America’s fight against climate change.

The new Climate Mobilization Act, which was passed on April 18th, contains six climate measures intended to help the city reach carbon neutrality and 100% clean energy by 2050.

One of the notable provisions in the bill requires all new residential and commercial buildings to cover their rooftops with plants or renewable energy sources such as solar panels.


El año pasado, y luego de una dura batalla legislativa que duró más de cuatro años, entró en vigor en Nueva York la llamada “Ley del Derecho a Saber”, una normativa que obliga a que los policías que entran en contacto con civiles, en pesquisas callejeras, se identifiquen plenamente, con nombre y apellido y, además de informar la razón por las que están parando a alguien, se conceda el derecho a negarse a la requisa.


El próximo junio la Junta Reguladora de Alquileres votará si se aumenta o no la renta de más de 1 millón de apartamentos en la ciudad de Nueva York, que están cobijados bajo la figura de renta estabilizada y, desde ya, líderes, activistas y defensores de los inquilinos, están pidiendo que los alquileres se congelen por los próximos dos años. En el 2018 el aumento fue del 1.5% en contratos de 1 año y 2.5% en contratos de 2 años.


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“In NASCAR you can see who is paying right on the hood of the car. A pie chart showing where politicians are getting their money from in a voter guide when you are deciding who to vote for is the next best thing. Too big a slice from real estate, and voters will know who the politician really serves. I’ve already included logos from labor union endorsements in mail to voters in my district, in fact most do. I believe with 869,000 union members in New York City having a nice slice from labor would become a benchmark to determine candidates in public service for our working families,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.

“Council Member Kallos’ bill will increase public awareness and education about where money is coming from to fund candidates for City office. A more aware public makes a big difference in having our campaign finance laws enforced and supported,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group.


In addition to financing the $15 million renovation, Rockefeller University is creating an endowment to maintain the esplanade section and contributed $150,000 to the conservancy group Friends of the East River Esplanade, Kallos said.

"When I got elected the waterfront was crumbling, which is why I set a goal of involving local institutions in public-private partnerships to rehabilitate the East River Esplanade," Kallos said.


The Hospital for Special Surgery is starting a $300 million expansion plan — to construct doctors offices and patient rooms above FDR Drive, according to Crain’s.


"Parks should be for playing not pesticides," Kallos said in a statement. "All families should be able to enjoy our city parks without having to worry that they are being exposed to toxic pesticides that could give them and their families cancer."

Kallos added that he doesn't allow his newborn daughter to play on the grass in city parks out of fear that she may be sickened by pesticides.

The legislation would force city agencies to switch from synthetic pesticides to biological pesticides made from naturally occurring chemicals. These natural pesticides are generally accepted as less toxic and break down more rapidly, the bill's sponsors said. In addition to banning pesticides in city parks, the bill would also prohibit spraying pesticides within 75 feet of a body of wate


Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed mandatory composting during his Earth Day announcement, but in September, he temporarily shelved expansion of a pilot project to recycle food scraps due to low use.

The project more than doubled curbside composting collection from 13,000 tons in fiscal year 2017 to 31,000 tons in 2018, according to the Department of Sanitation. But the city generates 14 million tons of garbage a year, about one-third of which is food waste, so the increase in composting made only a tiny dent in landfill reduction.


Hospital for Special Surgery is moving ahead with a $300 million project to add patient rooms and physician offices by building above the FDR Drive. The plan is more than 10 years in the making and has been saddled with lawsuits from neighbors opposing it.


In a notable exchange with Council member Ben Kallos, who represents a swath of Manhattan’s east side, Hsu-Chen acknowledged that although the city tweaked the revision to cap voids at 30 feet it would support the council if it amended the modification back to the 25 foot cap.

“We would support the City Council modification,” said Hsu-Chen. “The city planning commission did take into consideration input from expert practitioners and made the modification, but we believe 25 feet would be sufficient.”

DCP acknowledged that its research did not identify buildings where an additional five feet would have been crucial for the function of a void, but said it opted to include the extra space to “future proof” buildings in case of innovations in equipment that require additional space. Though the agency did concede that additional zoning changes could be made later to accommodate such innovations.

The Tuesday review of the zoning change was the first leg in the final obstacle—the City Council—the revision must face before it can be enacted. Kallos told Curbed he anticipates a successfully push for the amendment to be scaled back to its original 25 foot cap.

“I believe we should have widespread support,” said Kallos. “I anticipate that amendment will be the case.”


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s the tallest residential building in the western hemisphere – the luxurious 432 Park rises more than 1,300 feet into the Manhattan skyline.

City councilman Ben Kallos says architect Rafael Vinoly got a quarter of this super-tall height by exploiting what’s known as the “mechanical voids loophole” and it was totally legal.

The overly tall residential building at 432 Park. (Credit: CBS2)

“They’re building these mechanical voids to prop up real estate so these billionaires can have multi-million dollar helicopter views, and that’s not why we should be building buildings,” Kallos said.

The councilman added the firm is trying to do the same thing with an empty lot on East 62nd Street – to offer better and more expensive views – and they’re not alone.