New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

STATEMENT: Banning Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles in Hudson River Park

Monday, May 20, 2019

STATEMENT: Legislation banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles was introduced in the City Council over a year ago, it has not been passed. Yesterday Hudson River Park banned single-use plastic water bottles from their park because it is the right thing to do.  The time is now to pass Intro 0846-2018 and ban the sale of single use plastic water bottles in all New York City parks. Sign the petition at BenKallos.com/petition/banthebottle

STATEMENT: On New York State Legislature Allowing Municipalities to Install Automated Enforcement Technology on School Buses

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

“Today the New York State Senate unanimously passed legislation enabling municipalities to equip school buses with cameras that can capture vehicles illegally passing school buses while the stop arm is out. The legislation also allows for fines to be electronically issued to drivers who are caught driving this recklessly.”

“Today’s victory comes on the heels of the State Assembly also passing a version of the same bill unanimously and Governor Cuomo expressing his support for the legislation. As we wait for the Governor's signature, it is time for New York City to rise to the challenge and take advantage of this opportunity and pass legislation enabling the New York City Department of Education and the Office of Pupil Transport to install the camera technology on all of the school buses in our City.”

“Across New York City 150,000 children ride a school bus on any given day and according to a recent pilot study, as many as 15,000 drivers are potentially passing buses illegally per day putting kids across the five boroughs in danger. The NYPD has reported writing over 700 citations for this offense just this year.”

“Over the next few weeks, I will continue authoring the legislation for the City Council while pushing for greater support for this legislation. It is up to us to protect children from irresponsible drivers by passing this legislation and having fines issued automatically will change these driver’s behavior.”  

Restriction of Unbuildable, Gerrymandered Zoning Lots to Be Studied by City Planning Following Requests by Council Member Ben Kallos and Advocates

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Restriction of Unbuildable, Gerrymandered Zoning Lots to Be Studied by

City Planning Following Requests by Council Member Ben Kallos and Advocates

 

New York, NY — Tiny, unbuildable, gerrymandered zoning lots that have been created for the sole purpose of evading zoning restrictions, will be studied for regulation by the Department of City Planning following requests by Council Member Ben Kallos and advocates. City Planning will conduct a study related to the establishment of a minimum lot size for non-residential zoning lots, to prevent otherwise unusable zoning lots yielding unintended building forms in certain zoning districts. The results of the study will be shared with the Council by August 2019.

 

“Our city needs more housing for everyday New Yorkers, but developers keep creating new loopholes to get around fair zoning, just get better views for billionaires,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We have fought bad developers every step of the way, but it’s become clear that a zoning change is needed, and that’s just what City Planning will be studying. Thank you to City Planning Chair Marisa Lago for working to close loopholes so our zoning can effectively protect New York City’s neighborhoods.”

 

This issue was first raised by Council Member Kallos at 180 East 88th Street, in his district, created a 4-foot zoning lot to claim the property did not front on 88th Street (despite the address), so that it did not have to comply with zoning rules. He and Borough President Gale Brewer sent a letter on May 16, 2016 to the Department of Buildings, who issued an immediate stop work order in response, as covered by the New York Times. The Times continued its coverage of the case, with an exploration of how this loophole is used to avoid the zoning. After the 4-foot lot became a 10-foot lot and the Department of Buildings rescinded its stop work order, Council Member Kallos, Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Liz Krueger, and a coalition of community groups including Carnegie Hill Neighbors and Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District sued the Department, and then appealed the case to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).

Council Member Kallos Joined Extell Development to Cut the Ribbon on 28 Units of New Affordable Housing on the Upper East Side

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Upper East Side, NY - Today Council Member Ben Kallos joined Extell Development President and Founder Gary Barnett to cut the ribbon on a newly completed residential and commercial construction at 1768 Second Avenue at 91st Street across the street from his district office. 

The two buildings that make up this project are a 6-story and an 11-story building that will offer units reserved for households starting with incomes of $36,858 for individuals to $96,800 for a family of six (at 70% to 80% of the area median income). Units range from studios at $1,018 to three bedrooms at $1,740. The new buildings will also offer private childcare on its ground floor operated by Alef Bet Preschool.  About a dozen students who will be attending Pre School at this facility were also present at the ribbon cutting.

“We are building 100% affordable housing for low-income families on the Upper East Side, complete with the childcare these growing families will need,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This development is model for building affordable housing in neighborhoods with the most expensive real estate using as of right incentives and without piling on discretionary subsidies from the city. Gary Barnett has been responsive to my office, neighbors, and the larger community, not to mention that this is the second space childcare that he has built.”

"We are delighted to be celebrating the completion of this building,” said Gary Barnett, President and Founder of Extell Development. “It has been a pleasure working with all of the city officials in bringing 28 newly-built affordable units and a new preschool to this community.” 

The architecture firm, Curtis + Ginsberg, notes, “The brick façades with alternating infill details are designed to complement the built pattern of the neighborhood that includes a variety of scales, materials and textures.” The buildings also feature accessible roof terraces, which will be used for additional community programming.

The building is just steps away from the Second Avenue Subway 96th Street Station with an entrance at 94th Street.  Applications were due by April 2019 and submitted through City’s Housing Connect with winners selected by lottery.

STATEMENT: Council Member Ben Kallos on Governor Cuomo support for Bus Arm Legislation

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

STATEMENT: Council Member Ben Kallos on Governor Cuomo support for Bus Arm Legislation

“New York City’s children deserve to be safe when they get on and off their school buses every day. Now that Governor Cuomo has expressed his support for allowing municipalities like New York City to install stop arm cameras on school buses we should jump at the opportunity and pass legislation I am authoring requiring New York City do so.

This legislation would force the Department of Education and the Office of Pupil Transport to install stop arm cameras on city school buses with the capability of issuing electronic fines to drivers who illegally pass school buses while the stop arm is down. There is no question that this dangerous behavior puts the lives of children in peril; we have all seen it done on our roads and now is the time to do whatever we can to teach irresponsible drivers that this behavior will have consequences.”

For more information on the legislation read my recent amNEW YORK op-ed titled “Don't wait for tragedy to approve school bus safety cameras”.

STATEMENT ON EPA's Comments on Glyphosate

Monday, May 6, 2019

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump administration is claiming that ‘there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.’ At a time when courts around the country have ruled in favor of cancer victims suing Roundup, because it contains glyphosate and caused their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma it is unbelievable that this EPA would say this. It is obvious that the EPA is now serving lobbyists, special interests and industry not the American people or the environment.

The EPA’s decision is precisely why New York City must take action and ban the use of toxic pesticides in our parks by adopting Introduction 1524-2019.  The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has concluded that glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans and that there was strong evidence of an association between glyphosate exposures and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.’ Other countries that have heavily regulated or outright banned glyphosate include Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany and India among others. Join the fight at Benkallos.com/Petition/BantoxicPesticides.”

 

Ribbon Cut on $15 Million in Repairs to the East River Esplanade Resulting from Public/Private Partnership with Rockefeller University

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Ribbon Cut on $15 Million in Repairs to the East River Esplanade Resulting from Public/Private Partnership with Rockefeller University

 
(New York, NY) — Today the Rockefeller University cut the ribbon on a public/private partnership that repaired and refurbished, a crumbling seawall and dilapidated stretch of the East River Esplanade. The ribbon cutting ceremony took place near East 63rd Street and was led by East River Esplanade Taskforce Co-Chairs Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Parks Borough Commissioner William Castro and Rockefeller University Executive Vice President Timothy O’Connor.
 
 
WATCH THE VIDEO

The first phase of the project began in 2015 with the rehabilitation of the seawall that supports the esplanade between 63rd and 68th Streets. Some of the work completed included repairing eroded joints between the blocks, replacing damaged, displaced, and missing blocks, and repairing eroded concrete. The renovations to the East River Esplanade that began in 2016 after the repair work included: improving landscaping, adding new seating and lighting, creating a designated bike lane, and constructing a noise barrier along the FDR Drive to reduce traffic sound. This section of the park will also have an endowment to fund landscaping for the park in perpetuity.
 
“We are thrilled to contribute this newly upgraded segment of the esplanade to the neighborhood,” said Rockefeller University President Richard Lifton. “Its design was truly a team effort, and included input from Council Member Kallos, members of Community Board 8, and many other stakeholders. I want to thank them for the collaborative and constructive way in which they approached this work. As Upper East Side neighbors ourselves, the Rockefeller community looks forward to many years of walking, jogging, and biking along this path, as well as just enjoying the view of the river.”
 
“I am so proud of the collaborative public/private partnership with Rockefeller University that has resulted in the completion of this newly repaired segment of the East Side Esplanade. As Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce, I am thrilled with the gorgeous landscaping of this portion of the Esplanade. It gives us a glimpse of how the entire esplanade should look. I want to congratulate Councilman Ben Kallos for working with Rockefeller University to ensure that they made a real and ongoing commitment to the Esplanade, and to thank Rockefeller University for doing such a spectacular job,” said Congress MemberCarolyn B. Maloney, Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce.
 
 
“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. Rockefeller University set the precedent as the first investment of $15 million that has been joined by more than $200 million over the past five years,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade. “Thank you also to Congress Member and Co-chair of the East River Esplanade Carolyn Maloney for her leadership. As we cut the ribbon on this multi-million dollar renovation and repair done by Rockefeller, we must thank University President Richard Lifton for his commitment and that of his great institution.”
 
“Thanks to Council Member Kallos’ persistent advocacy and Rockefeller University’s partnership, an important part of our infrastructure and recreational space has been significantly improved — making it much more welcoming for Upper East Siders and all who visit the East River Esplanade,” said Manhattan Parks Commissioner William Castro. “This work complements the commitment made by the City in recent years to restore and preserve the Esplanade between E. 60th and E. 125th Streets as an asset for this community and the city as a whole.”
 
The public/private partnership to improve the East River Esplanade emerged with Council Member Ben Kallos and Mayor Bill de Blasio during conversations around city approval for Rockefeller’s $500 million laboratory building, a construction project that is adding 160,000 square feet of modern, modular lab space to replace aging facilities. The building, named the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Research Building, will be the centerpiece of the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation–David Rockefeller River Campus. The University spent approximately $15 million on seawall repairs and esplanade improvements, and committed to maintain the landscaping of this section of the esplanade in perpetuity. At the request of Council Member Ben Kallos the investment by Rockefeller University was then matched by Mayor de Blasio with an initial $35 million dollar investment in 2014.
 
The Rockefeller University also made a $150,000 gift to Friends of the East River Esplanade, a grass-roots conservancy dedicated to the restoration and renovation of the esplanade from 60th to 120th Streets.
 
The Rockefeller University began the approval process to build the new laboratory building in 2012. The Community Board approved the project on January 9, 2014; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer approved the project on February 12, 2014; and the City Planning Commission approved the project on April 2, 2014. Following these approvals, Council Member Kallos raised key community concerns leading to this public/private partnership memorialized in a letter to him from Rockefeller Universityapproval by the City Council, and improvements to the Esplanade that will serve the community in perpetuity.
 
Throughout the planning phases of the project, Rockefeller worked in conjunction with its neighbors and local government officials, including Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Community Board 8, and representatives from the Parks Department, in a collaborative process designed to ensure the public enhancements meet the needs of the community.
 
The ribbon cutting was also attended by Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, a representative for Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Community Board 8 Manhattan, Friends of the East River Esplanade, Green Park Gardeners, New Yorkers for Parks, and East Sixties Neighborhood Association. Actual completion of renovations to this section of the Esplanade were completed in the fall of 2018 but the ribbon cutting was delayed to scheduling conflicts.
 
“New Yorkers deserve an East River Esplanade that is as vibrant as it is accessible,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I thank Rockefeller University, Congresswoman Maloney, and Councilmember Kallos for their efforts in making the esplanade a more well-designed public space for all residents to enjoy. I’m happy to see the repairs begin and I look forward to engaging the community as these projects advance.”
 

The New York City Council rallied alongside advocates on the steps of City Hall to mark the passage of the Climate Mobilization Act.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The New York City Council rallied alongside advocates on the steps of City Hall to mark the passage of the Climate Mobilization Act.

New York, NY — The New York City Council today passed legislation to mobilize the city around climate action. The New York City Climate Mobilization Act, which includes 10 bills and resolutions introduced by Council Members Costa Constantinides and Rafael Espinal and Progressive Caucus Members Donovan Richards, Andrew Cohen, and Steve Levin, is the largest single carbon reduction effort that any city, anywhere, has ever put forward. The Progressive Caucus endorsed the package as a part of its 2018-2021 legislative agenda, which includes combating climate change as one of its priorities.

“I am proud to be a co-sponsor of Introduction 1253 as it sets ambitious, comprehensive standards on New York City’s worst polluters, old buildings. By modernizing buildings to raise efficiency standards we will dramatically cut pollution long term,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “Retrofitting for efficiency and sustainability will reduce our City’s carbon footprint and create thousands of much-needed, good paying jobs. Thank you to Council Member Costa Constantinides for his dedication and work in the effort to get this bill and entire package passed.”   

Toxic Pesticides Ban in Parks Proposed by New York City Council Members Kallos and Rivera

Thursday, April 18, 2019

New York, NY— Toxic pesticides would be banned from city parks under a bill introduced today by Council Members Ben Kallos and Carlina Rivera. Introduction1524-2019 would ban all city agencies from spraying highly toxic pesticides, such as glyphosate, and be the most far-reaching legislation to regulate pesticide use in New York City. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, and the chemical is partially or fully banned in many countries throughout the world.

Toxic Pesticides Ban Letter to Mayor de Blasio

Thursday, April 18, 2019

April 18, 2019


Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall


New York, NY 10007


Dear Mayor de Blasio,


On behalf of our constituents, we are writing to convey our profound concerns relating to the use of glyphosate-based herbicides being sprayed within New York City.
Neighborhoods and parks throughout New York continue to be treated with the toxic pesticide RoundUp and other glyphosate- and surfactant-based products. The spraying of these products, done with the expressed goal of killing weeds, is raising serious alarm amongst residents and city workers who may be unknowingly exposing themselves and their families to harmful chemicals.

Last year, a California jury found that RoundUp contributed to toxic and carcinogenic effects and awarded $78 million to a sole plaintiff who was exposed to the pesticide while working as a groundskeeper. While the case is on appeal, the jury in the original trial held the producer of RoundUp, Monsanto, was responsible for the worker’s terminal cancer. A federal jury in a separate case reached the same conclusion just last month, and hundreds of cases have yet to be heard involving plaintiffs seeking damages for adverse health effects caused by contact with and exposure to Roundup. Significantly, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the
World Health Organization, classified glysophate as "Probably Carcinogenic to Humans" in 2015.

The IARC concluded that the chemical likely causes a range of cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, renal cancers, skin cancers and pancreatic cancer. These concerns regarding Roundup's long-term safety should give us serious pause.

City Council Must Make Mechanical Voids Rules Stronger After City Planning Vote Says Council Member Kallos

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

“We need more affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers, not more super tall towers for billionaires propped up on empty mechanical voids.

“I am deeply disappointed that after every Community Board and nearly a dozen elected officials in Manhattan spoke out for fewer and shorter mechanical voids, that the City Planning Commission would disregard the community, evidence from their own experts at the Department of City Planning, and vote in favor of taller buildings for billionaires.

“The City Council must overturn what the City Planning Commission has proposed by reducing the heights of mechanical voids. I've done it before and I will do it again.

“Thank you to Department of City Planning for proposing a solution to stop super tall towers for billionaires propped up on empty mechanical voids. It is a step in the right direction and should have been made stronger instead of weaker by the City Planning Commission.

“I will continue working with Department of City Planning Chair Lago on a follow up actions to protect more of our city and close more loopholes.

How Much Money Politicians Took from Real Estate Industry Would Be Mailed to Voters Ahead of Elections Under Proposal by Council Member Ben Kallos

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

New York, NY – Voters would finally know where politicians get their campaign money from under a new proposal to publicize the sources of contributions from major industries such as real estate right before elections. Under the legislation authored by Council Member Kallos, donors would be required to disclose where they get their money from. Displaying the percentage of a candidate’s funds that come from industries such as finance, insurance, lobbying, labor, real estate and government, the disclosures would be shared with the public via official New York City voter guides available online and mailed to every voter in New York City.

Arts Organization Chashama and NY City Council Member Kallos To Celebrate Immigrant Artists and their works of Art

Monday, April 1, 2019

Arts Organization Chashama and NY City Council Member Kallos To Celebrate Immigrant Artists and their works of Art

 

New York, NY - Chashama and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos will celebrate the opening of the art nonprofit’s new gallery featuring four shows by immigrant artists on April 1, 2019 at 12 p.m. at 340 East 64th Street. Ecuadorian and Mexican artists and DACA recipients Francisco Donoso and Maria De Los Angeles will exhibit Esperanza de Otro Mundo Posible/Hope of Another Possible World; John Rivas and Raelis Vasquez will exhibit Stories of our Ancestors; and an international collective from the 2019 NYFA Immigrant Artist mentoring program will present WhereElse?, a multidisciplinary show meant to spark dialogue about immigration and otherness.

“To me, art is simple, it is filling a space with something beautiful. And that is exactly what ChaShama has once again managed to do here; display great artwork for people to see. I am proud to have partnered with ChaShaMa to cut the ribbon at this location. The Upper East Side welcomes the installation and appreciates the dedication it took for the artists to complete it. The community and I are grateful for the art and are looking forward to many more works of art that will be displayed at this space as time goes on, said Council Member Ben Kallos.

Cooling Tower Inspections to See New Disclosure and Enforcement to Prevent Spread of Legionnaires’ Disease

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Cooling Tower Inspections to See New Disclosure and Enforcement to Prevent Spread of Legionnaires’ Disease

Legislation Authored by Council Members Kallos and Yeger Passes City Council

New York, NY - New Yorkers can breathe easier as the heat season approaches. Cooling towers that are a breeding ground for Legionnaires’ Disease will finally have to report on their compliance with 90-day inspections meant to thwart the spread of the deadly disease.

More than 1,000 cooling towers (representing 20 percent) were out of compliance with 90-day inspections that must be conducted while towers are in operation, according to WNYC in June of 2018. In response, as reported by WNYC, Council Member Kallos authored Int. 1149-B of 2018, co-sponsored by Council Member Kalman Yeger, mandating that building owners receive electronic reminders and inspectors to file results within 5 business days of the inspection so that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene DOHMH can engage in immediate enforcement and ensure that inspections are actually occurring.

Analysis of New York State DOH Registered Cooling Towers beginning August 2015 found 2,268 cooling towers that were last inspected in 2017 or prior, putting 44% of all towers out of compliance.

Healthy Happy Meals Passes New York City Council

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Water, Low-fat Milk and 100% Fruit Juice to Become "New Normal" for All Kids Meals

New York, NY - Kids meals are in for a change. From the iconic McDonald’s Happy Meal to a kids’ meal at your local diner, water, low-fat milk and 100% fruit juice will be the default instead of sodas that are high in sugar. Int. 1064-B authored by Council Member Ben Kallos.

Obesity is an epidemic in New York City where more than half of adults are overweight or obese, according to the NYC Health. Obesity is starting early in life: nearly half of all elementary school children are not at a healthy weight and 1 in 5 kindergarten students enters school already obese.

How Far an 8 Year-Old Must Walk to Burn Calories from a 12-oz SodaThe American Heart Association recommends that children limit consumption to one or fewer 8-oz sugar sweetened beverage per week. The New York Academy of Medicine testified that according to their scientific research a “12-oz serving of regular soda [in a kids meal can contain] more than 9 teaspoons of sugar. An average 8-year old would need to walk 70 minutes, or the distance between City Hall and Time Square, to ‘walk the calories off.’”

Families now spend more on dining-out than on home cooked meals and children consume over 30 gallons of sugary drinks every year on average, which is enough to fill a bathtub.

McDonald’s provided testimony that its Happy Meal was already compliant with the proposed legislation stating, “soda was removed from the Happy Meal section of U.S. menu boards in 2013.” The testimony continued sharing empirical evidence that changing the default beverages as McDonald’s had already produced results. “[W]e subsequently saw positive shifts in consumer behavior, and the number of Happy Meals served with water, milk, or juice has since increased by 14 percentage points. As of November 2017, and for the first time, more than half of Happy Meals served in the U.S. included water, milk or juice as the beverage of choice rather than soda and other beverages.”

Scientific research confirmed that the original “Healthy Happy Mealslegislation restricting calorie counts would have a positive impact on reducing caloric intake and obesity in children, according to research by Dr. Brian Elbel of the NYU School of Medicine published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study is applicable to the current legislation, which would have a similar impact.

A 2017 Global Strategy Group survey commissioned by the American Heart Association found that New Yorkers expressed nearly universal support (94 percent) for making the food and beverage options on children's menus healthier. The survey concluded that NYC voters are strongly in favor (87 percent) of making healthy drinks like water and low-fat milk the default drink option on children's menus.

Testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission Supporting the Designation as an Individual Landmark: First Hungarian Reformed Church aka 346-348 East 69th Street

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

It is vital that structures like this church, which physically mark the relationship of Yorkville to its history as an enclave for European immigrants, be landmarked to preserve this cultural history. This church was, and remains, a cultural gathering spot and place of familiarity for the Hungarian community. Designed by prominent Hungarian architect Emory Roth in the Hungarian vernacular style, the church is a symbol of the Hungarian community and their efforts to establish a Reformed congregation in the city, free from the religious persecution they faced in their homeland. It instilled a sense of pride in their culture, while also providing a sense of security for the Hungarian immigrant community.

That history is my family’s history. My grandparents came to New York City in the wake of Kristallnacht prior to the start of World War II joining the existing community of Hungarians, moving to an apartment on East 71st Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues with a ground floor dermatology practice.

By 1940, New York City had the largest Hungarian community in America, with a population of about 123,000. The First Hungarian Church, designed in the Hungarian Vernacular and Secessionist style, became a cultural enclave for the Hungarian community. The church recalls churches located in small Central European villages, thus creating a “little Hungary” within Yorkville. Moreover, this provided and still provides a sense of security giving immigrants, like my family, a sense of place within their new country.

This is the neighborhood I grew up in, which had so many cultural touchstones from restaurants to bakeries and cultural institutions, many of which have since been displaced. That is why I cherish any buildings that connect us to our past and stand in living testimony to the rich cultural immigrant heritage of the area that might otherwise be denied.

As a child, I walked past the First Hungarian Reformed Church every day on my way to yeshiva at Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School. The church continues to this day as a part of a waning group of religious institutions devoted to and with services in their mother tongue, connecting us to that immigrant heritage we share. It continues to serve the Hungarian community and the neighborhood at large, frequently hosting block association, cooperative and condominium meetings.

Tourist Attractions Like Hudson Yards Vessel Could Not Take Ownership of Your Social Media or Identity Under Proposed Legislation by Council Member Ben Kallos

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

"I will be introducing legislation in the City Council to ensure that when 60 million tourists visit our city their photos, videos and identities are not taken and sold to the highest bidder.

"You don't own me, you don’t own my identity, and you can't own the photos in my smartphone just because I took them at your tourist attraction.

 "We've all been to museums where you can't take a photo or to a sports game where you might end up on TV, and that's usually a good thing, especially if you caught a home-run in the bleachers.

Expanding Bus Lane Camera Automated Enforcement on the Upper East Side and Calling on Albany for Authorization to Expand

Friday, March 15, 2019

Pass A Budget For Bus Riders: Advocates, Electeds Rally To Demand Expanded Bus Lane Camera Authorization To Speed Bus Service In Upcoming State Budget

WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE

 
New York, NY-Transit advocates and elected officials and the New York City Department of Transportation gathered today to call on state lawmakers to authorize bus lane enforcement cameras citywide in the upcoming state budget due at the beginning of next month. 

Today, Congress Member Maloney, State Senator Kreuger and Assembly Member Seawright joined Council Member Ben Kallos, DOT Manhattan Commission Ed Pincar and advocates from NYPIRG Straphanger’s Campaign, Transit Center, Riders Alliance, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, to call on Albany to expand hours and equip at least 50 SBS buses with cameras to enforce bus lanes in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget.
 

Rezoning Effort to Stop Supertall Towers Earns Support from Manhattan Elected Officials and Community Boards During Public Review

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Rezoning Effort to Stop Supertall Towers Earns Support from Manhattan Elected Officials and Community Boards During Public Review

New York, NY – An effort to limit excessive empty spaces such as mechanical voids to prop up buildings to give billionaires better views received widespread support from elected official and community boards in Manhattan during the public review period that ends March 8. Eight of ten of community boards along with over a dozen elected officials in Manhattan that would be impacted have placed their support behind a zoning text amendment limiting the use of excessive mechanical voids in buildings with suggestions for improvements. The two community boards that disapproved did so conditionally only if improvements requested are not made. The Department of City Planning has publicly noticed the next step in the process a public hearing for members of the public to testify on March 13, 2019.

 Recent advances in construction technology combined with a real estate market incentivizing apartments for billionaires led to buildings like 432 Park, which got 25% of its supertall height by exploiting the mechanical voids loophole. Voids are large spaces in a building meant to house mechanicals, but when abused are mostly empty and used to add height to the building because they currently do not count as zoning floor area. Rafael Viñoly, who designed 432 Park, also proposed 249 East 62nd, which has a base of 12 stories and 150-foot mechanical void to raise up 11 stories above. 50 West 66th Street proposed a 161-foot mechanical void to reach a height of 775 feet.

During the month of February, Council Member Kallos toured nearly every Community Board in Manhattan to share the importance of a proposed zoning text amendment from the Department of City Planning to stop supertall buildings that abuse empty voids to gain height solely to build apartments for billionaires. Council Member Kallos developed a map of areas that were already protected, would be protected, and remained in jeopardy that he revised with the City Council Land Use Division complete with a one pager that was distributed throughout the borough of Manhattan complete with petition.

Elected officials throughout Manhattan have joined together in support of the zoning text resolution. The proposed solution to discourage developers from abusing mechanical voids has also gained the support of Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, State Senators Liz Krueger, Jose Serrano, Robert Jackson, Assembly Members Richard Gottfried, Harvey Epstein, Daniel O'Donnell, Dan Quart, Robert Rodriguez, and Rebecca Seawright, and City Council Members Diana Ayala, Keith Powers, and Carlina Rivera.