New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

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.


That charter change was quickly implemented through local law, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, for all special elections before the 2021 general election, thus applying to multiple races this year.

Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat, has also proposed increasing the public funds cap to roughly 89% of the spending limit, effectively allowing candidates to run their campaigns entirely on small contributions and the subsequent public match, and diluting the effect of wealthier, larger donors. And he hopes to put that reform into effect for the 2021 city election cycle, which will feature a massive number of local races, from citywide and borough wide posts through the City Council.

“I think this is a gamechanger,” Kallos said at Monday’s hearing, citing the recent citywide public advocate special election as proof that increasing the public funds match reduced big donations. He pointed to the latest campaign finance disclosures from all the campaigns, which showed that contributions of $250 or less made up 61% of all contributions, up from 26.3% of all contributions in the 2013 public advocate race, according to his office’s analysis of the numbers.


Young immigrant artists are getting some much needed space in an Upper East Side apartment building.

Some commercial space at the St. Tropez building on 340 E. 64th St. has officially been transformed into a new gallery by Chashama, a nonprofit organization that finds unused real estate for artist gallery and studio use. City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who funded all four of the exhibitions scheduled to occupy the gallery, has allocated a total of $80,000 to the nonprofit over the last three years.


Building Access NYC in a way to eventually make it accessible to others who are working towards similar goals was a logical addition, according to Hia. Key to this was also continued support from elected officials in New York City.

Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, was a major proponent of the project. Kallos is also a software developer, and he has previously worked on projects with similar goals, including, which provides healthy recipes to users who are on a budget. Kallos introduced Local Law 60 in 2018, which spurred the city to consider how tech and data could advance access to benefits there.

Kallos said the API is going to be a way for private-sector innovators to avoid having to understand and navigate bureaucracy. Instead, they will be able to focus on creating a new digital means of using data and applications for other services to screen individuals and ultimately determine if they are eligible for benefits they aren’t receiving.

“Now that New York City has finally done the right thing by making its benefits available through an API, the challenge now comes to the private sector for how we can work together to finally end hunger and poverty in New York City,” said Kallos.


When it comes to tolerating dissent or even unapproved wave-making, the New York City Council is starting to look a bit like the old Soviet Politburo.

The latest: Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) saw his land-use subcommittee shut down, apparently because he’d been asking too many uncomfortable questions about the mayor’s affordable-housing and tax-break deals.

Kallos himself didn’t suffer. By all accounts, he’s happy that he wound up being elevated to helm the Contracts Committee, where his brand of oversight won’t ruffle colleagues’ feathers.