New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

There are over 300 miles of scaffolding in this city. Those damp, dimly-lit plywood tunnels installed alongside construction sites are meant to keep construction materials from falling on pedestrians below. But sidewalk sheds can also be dangerous. Earlier this month, construction workers in Williamsburg were injured when a sidewalk shed gave way beneath them. Last summer, scaffolding in Brooklyn Heights fell outside a Starbucks, injuring three people below. And in 2017, a young woman suffered major spinal damage when scaffolding collapsed on her in SoHo.

 

NEW YORK, NY — Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is taking steps to cut down on the development trend of building large mechanical voids in high-rise towers after neighborhood preservation groups and elected officials sounded the alarm on the practice.

 

After pushback from the Upper West Side community and elected officials, the City Planning Commission announced Monday it will be reviewing a text amendment to limit voids: non-residential spaces in residential buildings created to augment the height of a building.

 

MANHATTAN -- With temperatures plummeting, the city is turning its attention to the homeless population.

On Monday night, hundreds of volunteers will try to get a sense of how many people are on the streets and what their needs are through the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate or HOPE count.

 

Kallos cited seven scaffolding collapses dating back to February 2017 that resulted in either property damage or injury. In addition, the council members say companies often put up the scaffolding and then drag their feet on the actual work, leaving the metal structure in place sometimes for years.

“It’s bad enough that we regularly see scaffolding staying up for years, apparently unused. But when it is used, we can’t even be sure it will serve its purpose and keep us safe,” State Senator Liz Krueger said.”Clearly, the self-certification process is not sufficient.”

Added New York City Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel: “The unprecedented development around New York City is at a rapid pace. Longstanding scaffolding has created public safety issues.”

Council Member Margaret Chin said there needs to be an incentive to reduce how long scaffolding remains in place. “This will lead to a vast improvement of quality of life across our city, as repairs will be done in a timely manner leading to fewer shadows on our streets and other issues associated with perpetual scaffolding,” she said.

 

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Since the collapse of a sidewalk shed in SoHo in November of 2017 nearly killed a young model, the construction of these sheds over New York City sidewalks has jumped more than 17 percent.

At the time of the SoHo incident, there were 7,000 sidewalk sheds. Through the Department of Buildings, 7 On Your Side Investigates has confirmed there are now 8,197 sheds adding another 30 miles of scaffolding hanging over the heads of New Yorkers.

 

The de Blasio administration is accelerating plans to tighten a loophole that allows developers to boost the height of luxury apartment buildings, according to multiple sources. A tower on the Upper East Side proposed by Extell Development Co. is directly in regulators' cross-hairs.

 

“Paying construction workers minimum wage on affordable housing projects is only making our City’s housing crisis worse,” Kallos said.

“Moreover, no one should die in a construction accident that could have been prevented with proper training. New York City’s construction workers need to have the right to say no to a dangerous work situation.”

The bill applies to any city project receiving at least $1 million, is 100,000 s/f or more, or is a residential building with more than 50 units. Currently, companies that are working on direct city contracts are expected to pay prevailing wages for its workers..

Kallos’ bill would extend this to projects that are receiving any type of government funding.

His bill also calls for the disclosure of the government subsidies, the number of jobs created, and fines of $10,000 per day for thos companies that fail to comply.

“Anyone who believes construction workers can support their families, send their kids to college, do all the things we associate with stable middle-class lives, on $20.00 per hour is kidding themselves,” said John O’Hare, managing director of the Building Contractors Association.

“New York City has the right to make prevailing wage and apprenticeship training a condition to any financial incentive package it offers the private sector. You want the benefits, pay the wages.”

Kallos’ bill draws some similarities to the new 421-a program, now called Affordable New York.

 

Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), chairman of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, had introduced legislation with his colleague Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) to establish a “retirement security for all” system in the city. He lauded de Blasio for taking initiative on the issue.

“Too few Americans lack the means or direction to adequately plan for their retirement,” the lawmaker said in a prepared statement. “We all recognized this deficiency several years ago, and dared to act boldly to provide the infrastructure necessary to help nearly half of our City’s private workforce members lay a foundation for a more stable future.”

 

MANHATTAN – It was a packed room yesterday on the 16th floor of 250 Broadway when the Committee on Civil and Human Rights unanimously voted for a bill to officially recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day in NYC on January 27 and declare the week after as Holocaust Education Week.

 

“Parents should be able to track buses just like an Uber or an MTA bus, see when it’s coming, come downstairs with their kids, see it get their kids to school safely and know when it’s coming to drop off their child at home,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, who sits on the City Council’s Education Committee.

Now, parents will be able to locate their children’s school buses in real-time.

 

"Every year, the start of the school year, starts with nightmares, of children who get stuck on buses for hours, leaving parents wondering where their children are," said NYC's Councilmember Ben Kallos, on the addition of GPS trackers. "We can do it with Uber, the MTA does it with buses. None of this is new."

 

"We now have legislation that takes lessons from cities like Boston, where parents get bus routes weeks ahead of the school year, in time to challenge routes as well as from the Chancellor's home city of Houston, where since 2015 parents have had access to GPS apps, so they know where the buses are," City Councilman Ben Kallos said.

In September, bus problems began before the first school bells rang, when many kids were not picked up for the first day of classes. Other children rode for hours, arriving late to school. By the end of the month, the city had received 130,000 complaints about the school buses, significantly up from previous years, when bus problems had also plagued the start of school.

 

  • New York City Council Member Ben Kallos has proposed legislation that would require construction workers to be paid the prevailing wage for projects subsidized by the city.
  • Construction contractors must already pay the prevailing wage when they have a direct contract with the city, but Kallos’ measure would expand this requirement to projects that receive government funds in the minimum amount of $1 million, are 100,000 square feet or more in size or, if residential in nature, have more than 50 units in a building. The new regulation would also provide for classroom and on-the-job training through apprenticeships and require developers to disclose information like the source of all subsidies, how many jobs they create, all the names of contractors and owners and proof of insurance for all parties.
  • The proposal also includes monitoring and reporting by city agencies and the comptroller; fines of $10,000 per day for noncompliance; the potential for withdrawal of financial assistance to the developer; whistleblower protections and a right of private action for prevailing wages. “Any project that receives taxpayer dollars must pay a prevailing wage, invest in workers with training and apprenticeship and provide protection for workers' rights,” said Kallos, who is also an attorney for union labor. “Paying construction workers minimum wage on affordable housing projects is only making our city’s housing crisis worse. Moreover, no one should die in a construction accident that could have been prevented with proper training."

 

On Wednesday, the council approved legislation sponsored by Chaim Deutsch (D-Brighton Beach-Sheepshead Bay) and Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side) to install GPS devices on school buses and to give parents the option of using the tracking devices via an app. Another bill would give parents the opportunity before the start of the school year to review and bus routes and request changes to those routes.

The bills have been sent to Mayor Bill de Blasio for his signature.

 

"It's pretty straightforward. We can do it for Uber. We can do it on MTA buses. We can do it even on subways, and listen, if the MTA can get this right, it's scary that the city hasn't been able to get it right with our yellow buses," said Ben Kallos, a Democratic City Council member.

The portion of legislation involving the GPS will cost about $3.6 million in the first year of implementation. There's an estimated $1.8 million cost in the years to follow.

Eliyanna Kaiser, a New York City mother, said she is ready to celebrate over this new legislative package.

 

“I’m so proud that the City Council voted to pass my legislation and the entire STOP package, the most comprehensive oversight and reform we’ve ever seen of our student transit system,” said Treyger. “This legislation is about dragging a $1.2 billion school bus and transport industry into the 21st century and building the accountability and transparency necessary to ensure that our city’s children and families are receiving the safe, efficient, and humane school transportation services they deserve.”

But Treyger was also quick to call himself the prime co-sponsor on Council Member Ben Kallos’ (D-Manhattan) legislation to put GPS devices on all school buses.

“Parents have enough to worry about. School bus rides to and from school should not be another cause for concern. I’m proud to join Council Members Kallos and Deutsch in sponsoring this legislation that will give parents peace of mind when it comes to their child’s daily commute,” he said.

 

Real estate developers would be required to disclose prior relationships with politicians before signing any deals with the city under a new bill being introduced Wednesday by Council Member Ben Kallos. The legislation would also make developers reveal their ownership interests and their Minority Women Business Enterprise status. “Well-connected developers should not be getting sweetheart deals on the taxpayer’s dime,” Kallos said in an email.

 

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side), a new parent who proposed the GPS bill, said that requiring city school buses to operate electronic tracking devices will provide worried parents with knowledge of their kids’ whereabouts.

“Parents have brought up concerns they don’t know when the bus is coming home,” Kallos said. “Now they’ll finally be in position to know where their kids are. I’m hoping it’ll have a big impact.”

Parents of public school children impacted by problems with the city’s long-struggling bus system were eager for relief promised by the proposed legislation, which would take affect by September.

“Right now it’s the Wild West and we don’t have proper oversight — that why the bus crisis was what it was,” said Rachel Ford, a Queens parent and member of the Parents to Improve School Transportation advocacy group, whose son was delayed on his school bus for nearly four hours at the start of the school year.

 

Developers who want to do business with the city would be required to publicly disclose previous relationships with government officials under a bill being introduced Wednesday at the City Council.

“Well-connected developers should not be getting sweetheart deals on the taxpayers’ dime,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the bill’s sponsor.

Under the bill, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development would be required to give the Council the “compliance package” submitted by prospective developers for mandatory background checks.