New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

“There are so many vacant spaces,” Councilman Ben Kallos said at the unveiling. “Hopefully we can turn those spaces into art spaces, as well. This is just the beginning.”

The island already has its share of public art with six sculptures and a few galleries, including the stunning white marble columns at the FDR Four Freedoms Park, the climbable “Blue Dragon,” Cornell Tech’s WPA murals on its campus, Gallery RIVAA, Motorgate Gallery murals inside the parking garage, among others — all of which will be included on the art trail, officials say.


City Councilman Ben Kallos said years of advocacy from neighborhood parents and elected officials for more pre-k seats in the neighborhood is beginning to pay off.

"Seat by seat, class by class, and now building by building we are making sure the City opens up more pre-kindergarten seats so every four-year-old in my district can participate without commuting for an hour each way," Kallos said in a statement. "Thank you the School Construction Authority for starting the work on this much needed new facility."


While city law dictates when scaffolding must be erected, there are currently no regulations requiring sheds to be dismantled if no work is being done on the building. Legislation sponsored by Upper East Side Council Member Ben Kallos would change that.

The bill, first introduced by Kallos in 2016, would require all sheds erected due to dangerous building conditions to come down within six months — or sooner, if work is interrupted for more than seven consecutive days. If a building owner fails to complete the necessary repairs and remove scaffolding within that time frame, the legislation calls for the city to step in to complete the work, take down the scaffolding, and bill the landlord for all costs.

“Scaffolding goes up but doesn’t go down — for months, years, even decades — while no work is happening,” Kallos said in January when he reintroduced the bill for the current session. Real estate groups oppose the proposed reform on the grounds that it would unfairly burden building owners.


Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, an alum of Bronx Science, is against the changes.

“The fact that fewer black and Hispanic kids is getting into these schools is not the failure of the schools. It’s the failure of the public education system that has been failing them since day one,” Kallos said.

The mayor admits getting Albany to eliminate the tests may be difficult and that he may have to wait until next year.

A statement from the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation and the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association pointed out that the mayor’s admissions formula is “exceedingly complicated.” It also says the plan does not address “educational disparities across New York City middle schools.”


“This is by far the most subsidy I’ve seen on any project,” council member Ben Kallos told the Post; Kallos chairs the city’s subcommittee on planning, dispositions and concessions.

The income range for the qualifying families goes up to $122,070 for a family of three. If the families sell their property in less than 20 years, they will have to reimburse the various government entities for the subsidies.


“This is by far the most subsidy I’ve seen on any project,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions.

Incomes for the families already in contract on three of the homes are up to $84,510 for a family of three, and up to $122,070 for a family of three on the remaining seven.

Brooklyn real-estate broker Sara Golan said the prices are a steal.

“That is an amazing deal,” Golan, of Nest Seekers International, said of a Grant Avenue home in the program. “I would take that deal any day.”

She said she recently sold a similarly sized house on Throop Street for $1.83 million.


“Education and the well-being of our neighborhood children have always been a top priority for me,” Kallos said in a statement. “I am proud and happy that the residents who voted and participated in the process share that feeling and made it known with their vote.”


The joke in New York City is that there are two seasons: winter and construction.

Residents in other cities quip the same, but the idiom rings truest here, where New Yorkers filed more than 446,000 noise-related complaints in 2017, the most common reports coming via 311. Those complaints flag loud construction sites, car and truck horns but even more typically “loud parties” or music.

For New Yorkers woken up to the sounds of jackhammers in the morning, the city’s Noise Codeprotects its residents from such sonic assaults. And, earlier this year, the City Council passed a bill sponsored by Councilman Ben Kallos that aims to limit construction noise—particularly during overnights and weekends


One lawmaker said it's just proof that tougher regulations need to be put in place.

Web Extra: Scaffolding In New York | Active Sidewalk Sheds

Bricks from a 20 story building on the Upper East Side crashed through scaffolding Friday, injuring a 72-year-old man.

"Scaffolding is supposed to be there to protect us from falling debris, now it's actually not stopping items from hitting people," Councilman Ben Kallos said.

Kallos started battling for tougher scaffolding rules after November's accident in SoHo, when a so-called sidewalk shed colapsed, hurting nearly half-a-dozen people.

Kallos said his bill is running into some walls of its own.


City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents a large swath of the Upper East Side, testified at Wednesday night’s meeting, and though he said the campaign finance system currently in place is “the model campaign finance system in the country,” he also agreed there’s “room for improvement.” Kallos, who last term chaired the Council committee with oversight of the city Campaign Finance Board and has been a longtime reform advocate, said he’d like to see changes to “shift the balance of power away from the wealthy and…back towards the people it was designed to serve,” and he believes those changes can be implemented effectively without “putting this existing system at risk.”


This weekend, May 12 and 13, the free LIC Flea & Food market will open in Long Island City at 5-25 46th Avenue from 11am to 6pm. It’s your chance to visit the market while it’s actually in its namesake LIC: It will move over to Astoria beginning the weekend of May 19. 


City Council members are demanding the city yank the license of a sanitation company whose driver killed two people in the Bronx and lied to cops about it.

Councilman Antonio Reynoso and other pols stood outside the city Business Integrity Commission's office Wednesday to push for the shutdown of Sanitation Salvage, one of the city's largest private trash haulers.



UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — An Upper East Side private school has pledged to complete a $1 million renovation project on part of the East River Esplanade in an agreement to lease the space, city officials announced this week.

The Brearley School will lease "The Pier" — an 3,720-square-foot elevated platform above the John Finley Walk between East 82nd and 83rd streets — for the next 20 years with the option for two 10 year renewals, City Councilman Ben Kallos announced.

The school will be required to make $1 million in capital improvements to the space, which has fallen into disrepair and often leaks water onto the John Finley Walk, and will be responsible for maintenance and upkeep for the duration of the lease, Kallos said.


“It forces you to appeal to all voters as opposed to one Democratic base,” James added. “And this means more engagement, and less polarization and more democracy. It means listening to people you might not usually listen to and a freer exchange of ideas and is consistent with our principle of democracy and free elections,” James added. She later also suggested that if the mayor’s commission failed to take up the proposal, a separate Charter Revision Commission being created by the City Council, through a bill co-sponsored by James, could step in.  

Also in attendance Tuesday were Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and City Council Members Brad Lander, Antonio Reynoso, and Ben Kallos, all Democrats. James, Stringer, and Adams are all widely considered to be contenders for the 2021 mayoral race and share overlapping bases of supporters. It’s unclear, though, whether a runoff, instant or otherwise, will come into play in that race and who might benefit from which format. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is a fourth likely Democratic mayoral candidate, and several others may also jump into the race, creating a crowded field more apt to produce a runoff.

The 2013 Democratic mayoral primary narrowly avoided a runoff, with eventual winner Bill de Blasio earning just above the 40 percent threshold. There was a Democratic runoff in the 2009 primary for public advocate, which de Blasio won. The 2001 Democratic mayoral primary was also settled through a runoff.


City Councilman Ben Kallos (D – Manhattan), a software developer who previously raised concerns about some of the existing kiosks not working properly, was flabbergasted after learning about the amended contract.

“If [CityBridge] is not going to have to make millions of dollars of its payments for a decade, then they should build all the kiosks now,” he said. “They shouldn’t be getting an extra two years.”


t was 1939, construction was wrapping up on the East River Drive, the waterfront was being reinvented and dozens of property holders were cutting deals as their riverside rights began to vanish.

Case in point: The Brearley School. It limited its claim for the loss of air and light and the surrender of riparian rights to a symbolic $1 when the city obtained an easement for its playground and pier.

It did not, however, walk away empty-handed: In return for getting out of the way of the highway, Brearley got the city to build a new elevated structure above the promenade deck for its use as a play space.

And for the past 79 years, the private all-girls school has been leasing the 3,720-square-foot, steel-and-concrete platform that rises above the East River Esplanade’s John Finley Walk between 82nd and 83rd Street.

Unfortunately, for the past half-century, the city-owned hulk — called “The Pier,” for the jetty it replaced, and “The Overhang,” because it juts out over the Esplanade — has become one of the most detested and unsightly visual objects on the Upper East Side.

“I have spent my entire life walking up and down the Esplanade, passing under this overhang — and watching it fall apart,” said 37-year-old City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the area.


27163662058 bdb1558259 o Power Politicians: The Officials Who Call the Shots on Real Estate


Ben Kallos

New York City Councilman, Manhattan, District 5

If a developer wants a rezoning or a special tax exemption for its project, it has to convince the City Council that the development will benefit the neighborhood and New York City at large. The first step in that process is getting a “yes” vote from the subcommittee on planning, dispositions and concessions, which is chaired by Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos. Since taking over the gig in January, the second-term Democrat has adopted a more aggressive stance toward evaluating land use applications than some of his predecessors. He asks each developer how much subsidy they’re receiving from city, state and federal sources, what the cumulative value of their tax abatement is, whether they’re using minority- and women-owned businesses for construction, if they have a local hiring plan, and whether their workers are getting health insurance and earning a living wage.   

“We’re squeezing as much affordable housing out of every dollar as we can,” Kallos said.

In December 2017, the council passed a bill he co-authored that would impose fines on landlords who receive the J-51 or 421-a tax breaks and flout the law by failing to register and offer stabilized leases for rent-regulated units. He also spearheaded a package of bills passed by the council last May that sought to reform the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), the little-known body that grants zoning variances to developers who claim they are financially burdened by the zoning code. The legislation requires the BSA to write more thorough decisions, create a map of variances and notify local community boards, council members and borough presidents when it receives an application.

However, Kallos may have waged his fiercest battle last year against Gamma Real Estate, the developers of a planned 800-foot-tall residential tower at 3 Sutton Place. He helped pass a 10-block rezoning in the East 50s that will discourage projects like Gamma’s by forcing builders to adhere to “tower on base” standards, meaning 40 to 50 percent of the building has to sit below 150 feet. The developer is appealing the new zoning with the BSA, arguing its tower should be grandfathered in under the old, less-restrictive zoning.  


People would still be allowed to bring their own plastic bottles to those places, but wouldn’t be allowed to buy them there.

The measure would also provide for filling stations at parks and beaches, so people could fill up reusable bottles at those locations.

The measure is backed by Council members Ben Kallos and Rafael Espinal.

As CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Kallos wants to start by stopping the sale of bottled water at city parks, beaches, golf courses, skating rinks, etc. Espinal would like to extend it to anything in a plastic bottle, like juice, soda, tea, etc.

“It would actually help and make a dent in the one billion plastic bottles that New York City throws away every year,” Kallos said.

“There are studies that show that if we don’t stop the current trend of the amount of plastic we’re using, we’re going to have more plastic than fish in our ocean,” said Espinal.

It’s a controversial proposal, Kramer reported. The International Bottled Water Association worries about dehydration.


The bill must pass through the State Assembly and the Senate before it can move forward. Per the Times, the Assembly has been “generally supportive of a ban but not a fee,” however, the Senate has not weighed in yet on the proposal.

Last week, New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr., and Councilman Ben Kallos announced plans of their own to introduce a bill that would ban the sale of disposable plastic bottles at the city’s parks, beaches, and golf courses, reports the New York Times. The proposed ban hopes to encourage more people to rely on refillable bottles, and while sales of beverages in plastic bottles would be prohibited, park visitors would still be allowed to bring in their own plastic bottles.

“New Yorkers love convenience, especially because we are always running from one place to another, but this will make us pause and realize the impact that our actions are having on our environment,” said Espinal in a statement to the Times.


After President Trump rolled back a six-year Obama-era ban on selling bottled water at U.S. national parks last year, New York City Council has responded by introducing a ban of their own on single-use water bottles at city parks and beaches.

“In the face of the Trump administration's regressive and profit-driven agenda, it is time we step up and do our part to curb our reliance on single-use bottles,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal, who on Monday introduced legislation alongside Council Member Ben Kallos and Environmental Protection Chair Costa Constantinides.