New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

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.


“The fight to preserve our residential communities against super-tall buildings will likely have to continue in court before a judiciary less likely to be tainted by the political process after today’s irresponsible decision by the Board of Standards and Appeals,” New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the members of the ERFA, said in a statement at the time of the BSA decision. “The board ruled in favor of a bad acting developer against a lawful rezoning that was the result of a grassroots effort by the local community and elected officials.”

Real Estate Board of New York President John Banks said in a prepared statement at the time of the BSA verdict: “The Board of Standards and Appeals made a sensible decision, recognizing the importance of as-of-right development to our city’s continued growth and success… New York City needs predictability, continued investment and new housing, and the BSA’s decision helps achieve that.”


As part of the city’s ongoing charter revision process, New Yorkers could be asked to vote this year on major changes to rules governing community board membership, including instituting term limits and a uniform citywide appointment process.

Ben Kallos, who represents much of the Upper East Side in the City Council, said in recent public testimony that term limits “are necessary to ensure that these bodies reflect their communities and create a culture of getting things done and foster mentoring and the passing on of institutional memory.”


The New York City Council is expected to vote next month on a series of bills that address the impact of ride-hailing services like Uber Technologies and Lyft Inc.

Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, said he was against the cap as well.


Ben Kallos, a City Council member from Manhattan, said that he planned to vote against the cap ... he was bothered by the idea that the cap would halt new licenses while studying the industry.

“The scientific method says we test our hypotheses before we act on them,” Mr. Kallos said. “I don’t support any legislation that creates a solution before we know it actually fixes a problem.”


Councilmember Ben Kallos called the buffer lot a “sham zoning lot,” created so that developers could skirt the zoning rule known as “tower-on-a-base” that would have constrained the building’s height and design had it legally fronted on E. 88th St. In 2015, DDG Partners sold the buffer lot for $10 to a legally separate company, though both entities were under the same name and developer address, Kallos said.

One factor debated by the BSA commissioners last week was whether the tiny lot could conceivably be sold and built upon in the future. Kallos argued no, explaining the lot is adjacent to what is expected to be the building’s main entrance. Though the building has a Third Ave. address in city records, its condos have been advertised as being on E. 88th St.

“The developer never bothered to hide that the unbuildable lot is a sham,” Kallos said in his testimony to the BSA. “Under the terms of federal and state laws, this transaction would likely be considered a fraudulent conveyance in a foreclosure or bankruptcy proceeding.”


UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A fire house covering a large span of the Upper East Side is set to receive an investment of more than a half-million dollars for renovations.

City Councilman Ben Kallos is allocating $525,000 for fixes at the home of Engine Company 22, Ladder Tower 13 and Battalion 10 on East 85th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues, the councilman announced Tuesday.

"Our firefighters respond to every 911 call as if our lives depend on it, because they do, and they are always there for us, fighting fires, saving lives, and we must be there for them," Kallos said in a statement. "When we run from danger our firefighters run to it, they are our bravest, and we must do everything in our power to support them."


The New York City charter is being revisited by not one, but two revision commissions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the first commission to review the city charter during his State of the City address in February. The stated intent of the mayor’s commission was to examine campaign finance and improve democracy in the city, but over the course of several public hearings, commissioners also examined local engagement through community boards and, in turn, the level of input that residents have in city land use decisions. That commission plans to wrap up in time to have proposals on the ballot in November.

Ultimately, substantial changes to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure – the standard public review process for city land use decisions – are unlikely given the commission’s narrow focus and short time frame. In its recently released preliminary staff report, the commission acknowledged the complexity of the matter and recommended not pursuing it further. The report defers consideration to future commissions, and recommends they conduct more outreach on the issue.