New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

Some building owners just leave it up for years instead of doing costly facade repairs.

“The scaffolding is there to keep us safe from the building, but who’s going to keep us safe from the scaffolding,” City Councilmember Ben Kallos said.

Kallos has been trying to bring down lingering metal piping that cover sidewalks for years on end— calling it a quality of life and safety issue. He is currently proposing legislation in this latest legislative session that would mandate owners “get the work done within six months or the city will step in and do the work and make bad landlords pay.”

 

“The loophole being abused here is just an example of what residents have endured from overdevelopment in our city,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who is one of the parties of the suit.

In summer 2016, developers were hit with a stop-work order from the DOB over a four-foot lot that DDG carved out on the property in order to allow for a taller building. After the stop-work order, DDG increased the lot’s size and the DOB allowed construction to resume. However, community members continued to express opposition and proceeded with their third appeal at the time.

 

Four years ago, after being elected to the New York City Council, we both learned what it means to be a public official the only way you really can: on the job. Now we are learning on the job in a very different role, with our families, as fathers of new children. As we experience this once-in-a-lifetime moment alongside our respective partners, we are excited and, perhaps like all parents, more than a little nervous. Helping to settle our nerves is the fact that we’re able to stay home with our families as we navigate this new stage in life. We are both lucky: As elected officials, our leave is at our discretion. We have both decided to take the time to be with our families.

In the United States, new parents seeking time with their child face both a legal and cultural challenge. There is no national mandate for paid family leave. Even where it is offered, fathers remain a lot less likely than mothers to take full advantage. As elected officials and as fathers, we hope that taking leave will help empower other new fathers who are considering their leave options to take time as well.

 

Community groups and elected officials representing the Upper East Side filed a lawsuit targeting DDG’s 32-story luxury condo tower rising at 180 E. 88th St. The suit against the developers and two city agencies contends that the project’s height and configuration were achieved by exploiting a quirk in the zoning code.

“The loophole being abused here is just an example of what residents have endured from overdevelopment in our city,” City Councilman Ben Kallos, who is a party to the suit, said in a statement released Friday.

DDG broke ground on the project in April 2015, but a year later ran into trouble after community groups complained about an unusual aspect of the site’s zoning: The developer had carved out a separate, 4-foot by 22-foot lot along East 88th Street that allowed it to alter the building to a more advantageous shape.

 

Carnegie Hill Neighbors, Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District, City Council member Ben Kallos and State Sen. Liz Krueger filed the lawsuit. The courts will allow construction to continue while the case proceeds.

Work on the project, currently at the 16th story, is expected to be finished by early next year. [Crain’s] – Eddie Small

 

A new lawsuit has brought a skirmish over a residential skyscraper on the Upper East Side to new heights.

State Sen. Liz Krueger, City Councilman Ben Kallos, and two neighborhood groups are challenging the city’s approval of a residential building with an art gallery, currently under construction at 180 East 88th St.

DDG Partners’ structure is slated to rise 524 feet, when including mechanical equipment.

In a lawsuit recently filed in New York County Supreme Court, the Upper East Side groups claimed DDG Partners created a micro-lot to skirt zoning rules that would have otherwise limited the building’s height to about 300- to 350-feet, according to estimates from Kallos’ office.

 

Now, a bill has been reintroduced in the City Council that would, for the first time, mandate the removal of a giant chunk of the scaffolds that front 7,750 buildings and envelop more than 275 miles of city sidewalk.

Sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, whose district on the Upper East Side is pockmarked by hundreds of sheds, the legislation would require a structure to be dismantled within six months of being erected — or in seven days if no work has been performed in that time.

Failure to complete necessary building repairs and demolish the nuisance structure after 180 days would call for the city to intervene, finish the job, take down the shed and bill the property owner for all costs, according to the language of the bill.

Built with planks, poles and a steel roof, the pop-up eyesores are designed to keep pedestrians safe as they pass beneath construction sites. But the structures typically stay put when a project is delayed for years, runs out of financing or encounters other stumbling blocks.

“Sidewalk sheds are like the once-welcomed house guest who never leaves,” Kallos said.

 

Council Member Ben Kallos of Manhattan’s Upper East Side re-introduced a pair of bills, Intro. 85 and 86, aimed at ensuring people who have had cases heard in housing court do not face discrimination from landlords. “[The bill] would require tenant screening companies who make these so-called “tenant blacklists” to provide fair and complete information. Landlords would no longer be able to discriminate against tenants,” he said. “No one should face homelessness suddenly because they’ve been to housing court.”

In a similar vein, Chin introduced a tenant protection measure of her own, Intro. 30. This bill, she said, would mandate that landlords, in the event that residents needed to be vacated, could not put relocation expenses on the city's dime. “We need to continue holding bad landlords accountable for their actions,” she said. “Or in this case, inaction.” 

Kallos, who announced his wife is imminently due to give birth and that he is slated to begin paid parental leave until March, spoke about the importance of fathers taking their paid leave and re-introduced a bill designed to limit how long scaffolding could remain in place. “Some scaffolding is almost old enough to vote,” he quipped.

 

Still uncertain is the organization’s name. One logical choice is the East 86th Street Business Improvement District.

Another option: “BID East Eighties,” or BEE, which is favored by City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the area and has been spearheading the effort and winning over wavering property owners for the past 2.5 years.

“This will finally provide the funding the community has needed for generations to support our businesses and keep 86th Street clean and tidy and beautiful,” Kallos said.

“Even with millions of dollars in city investment in the area, folks still feel that 86th Street needs more attention, and that’s where the BID comes in,” he added. “This will go above and beyond what government could possibly do.”

The breakthrough came earlier this month when a tally found that the owners of at least 50.1 percent of the value of commercial assessed properties in the district were backing the BID, Our Town has learned.

That is the threshold required for the proposal to advance — the failure to reach it doomed the original 1988 initiative and at least one other abortive effort — and it means that property owners have agreed to pay the annual levy to fund services and make the BID viable.

The good news was unveiled on Tuesday, January 23rd at Maz Mezcal, the Mexican restaurant at 316 East 86th Street where owner Mary Silva, a steering company member, has hosted several meetings for BID organizers and business owners, participants said.

“We have achieved the support of the majority of commercial assessed value in the neighborhood,” Kallos confirmed in an interview. “It is a very big deal.”

 

“By lowering the allowable after-hours noise limit in residential areas, allowing inspectors to take noise readings from the street, rather than from inside an apartment, and empowering inspectors with the ability to issue a stop-work order for noisy equipment, this legislation should bring some much-needed relief to New Yorkers,” Sapienza added.

In its Fiscal 2018 Statement of Community District Needs and Community Board Budget Requests, the number one budget expense item Community Board 1 requested was for DEP to “increase (the) monitoring of air and noise quality” in CB 1.

“Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for signing this bill into law and to the Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza for his agency’s expertise and collaboration on this legislation,” said the bill’s author, Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos, in the release.

Kallos also thanked “the countless residents who complained regularly about after-hours noise,” which he said, “led to this legislation to keep our city a little bit quieter.”

At the January 16 meeting of CB 1 held at the Astoria World Manor, board officers were re-elected to begin two-year terms from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2020 as follows:

 

Council Member Kallos said: “Affordable housing remains out of reach for too many New Yorkers. As the Administration continues to announce progress on preserving and building new housing, we will watch every deal closely to ensure New Yorkers are actually getting the affordable housing we need. The IBO has questioned whether the city is overstating, or worse, overpaying for affordable housing. I look forward to continuing to fight for affordable housing alongside Speaker Corey Johnson as Chair of the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions by ensuring every hard-earned tax dollar is maximized to drive a hard bargain and generate significantly more affordable housing. I also plan to ensure this committee empowers communities in the planning process, creates opportunities for minority and women-owned small businesses, and produces a full return on any city land and resources we give up.”

 

Kallos was roundly praised for his leadership of the committee over the prior session, both as a reformer and for holding accountable relevant agencies, like the Board of Elections.

 

The story of Councilmatic actually goes back to 2009, when Moore was working on OpenCongress.org, a site that tracked bills and votes in Congress. New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, then still a private attorney, cold-called Moore and told him he should build something like it for New York City. He teamed up with Code for America’s Mjumbe Poe, who built Councilmatic at a hackathon in Philadelphia in 2011, and brought it up to New York to run it here.

 

Wall Street JournalBen Kallos, a Democratic councilman who represents the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, has pushed for more pre-K seats there for years, often sending photos of empty storefronts that could serve as centers to the Department of Education. Mr. Kallos said private pre-K in that area typically starts at $24,000 per child yearly, and getting a free public seat lets parents keep working and stay in the city.

“My only concern is that this is an incredibly popular program and it will continue to be a victim of its own success as more and more parents apply,” and demand will keep outpacing supply, he said.

 

 

 

 

For City Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee, and City Council Member David Greenfield, a committee member, those delays in audits are just one reason that they believe the CFB’s system is flawed and in need of change. In December, Kallos, Greenfield, and other Council members ushered through nearly two dozen campaign finance related bills, some of them tweaks to how the Campaign Finance Board operates. Several of the measures were based on recommendations from the CFB, others were seen as addressing problems with the CFB identified by Council members and their consultants.

The Friday hearing did touch on the CFB’s budget needs for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1 and in which there will be a citywide election with a primary in September and a general election in November. These city elections account for a massive increase to $56.7 million for the 2018 fiscal year from last year’s CFB budget of $16.17 million.

About half of the proposed budget, $29 million, is allocated to the public matching funds program, which provides participating campaigns with 6-to-1 matches of small contributions up to $175. Another $11 million will go to printing and distributing a voter guide for the upcoming election.

But Kallos seemed more concerned that the board was spending more money, and time, on auditing campaigns than the money they received from resolutions of those audits. When Loprest told the committee that the CFB’s candidate services unit has seven full-time employees and the audit unit has 26, Kallos insisted that the CFB should dedicate more resources to candidate services and campaign liaisons, so campaigns can preemptively steer clear of missteps in navigating a complex campaign finance system, and avoid fines and penalties down the line.

 

Los residentes de El Barrio ahora podrán beneficiarse de los programas educativos y servicios comunitarios de la exclusiva escuela Marymount School, situada en el número 20 de la lista de las mejores escuelas privadas de la ciudad de Nueva York de 2018, según el ranking del sitio web Niche.

La educación de un solo estudiante en algunas de las escuelas de ese listado puede costar hasta $50,000 al año; sin embargo, en East Harlem, muchos padres trabajadores no superan los $40, 000 en ingresos anuales, como el mexicano Marcelo Suárez, un empleado de restaurante y residente del vecindario por más de una década.

“Trabajo duro para darles a mis tres hijos educación de calidad. He tenido hasta dos trabajos para comprarles útiles escolares y todo lo que necesitan. Quisiera hacer más por ellos, ayudarlos a que logren sus sueños, aprovechar cualquier oportunidad que los ayude a mejorar”, dijo Suárez, de 43 años.

 

coming to the rescue is Council Member Ben Kallos, whose bill has just been passed. The bill seeks to turn down the volume during the off hours that construction sites aren't taking off, whether it be on the Upper East Side or across the East River in Queens or back across to Manhattan's West Side where construction seems never-ending.

 

The goal of the legislation is to make the housing lottery application and search process more efficient and transparent for renters. Applicants would be able to track their application’s progress online and see their place on the waiting lists. By 2021, residents will be able to verify if the rent landlords are charging is legal.

Council Member Benjamin Kallos, who was a lead sponsor on the bill, called Housing Connect “incredibly broken” because it doesn’t match renters with available units. Following the passage of Kallos’ bill, the HPD said it will upgrade and expand the capabilities of their website.

The final version of the bill does help the city enforce rent limits for apartments that are not income-restricted, although Kallos originally hoped to apply it to other rent-regulated units. Aaron Carr of the nonprofit Housing Rights Initiative told the WSJ that renters in rent-stabilized suffer the most under the new bill. “Tens of thousands of units in the buildings receiving those 

 

On Tuesday, the Council approved Intro 1015-A, a bill sponsored by Councilmembers Ben Kallos and Jumaane Williams, with input from Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, to hold building owners who receive tax abatements accountable to the city.

Starting in 2020, landlords who aren’t providing affordable apartments after they have received financial windfalls in the form of city financing or tax breaks will be required to register their units with the city.

 

The bill also cuts in half the amount of noise allowed to come from a construction site when work is being done before 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

"New York City may be the city that never sleeps, but that shouldn't be because of after-hours construction noise waking you up," City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) said in a statement. "Our new law will turn down the volume on after hours construction noise in residential neighborhoods."