New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

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.

Testimony in Support of the Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment Application by Department of City Planning (N190230ZRY)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
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Testimony in Support of the Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment Application by Department of City Planning (N190230ZRY)

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Thank you to City Planning Chair Lago and the members of the City Planning Commission for hearing the Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment immediately following review by Community Boards, Borough Board, and the Borough President. We hope the Commission will speedily amend this proposal to reflect community concerns and vote perhaps at the next meeting, on March 27, 2019, so that the City Council may act quickly.

 The Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment with requested improvements is supported by Representative Carolyn Maloney, State Senators Liz Krueger, Jose Serrano and Robert Jackson, Assembly Members Richard Gottfried, Harvey Epstein, Robert Rodriguez, and Rebecca Seawright, and City Council Members Diana Ayala, and Keith Powers.

As elected officials in state and city government representing the borough of Manhattan, we stand united in support of this Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment, but believe it must be amended to reflect community concerns. We also call upon the Department of City Planning to return to this Commission this summer with a plan to protect commercial districts in Midtown, Hudson Yards, and the Financial District as well as to close remaining loopholes in the Residential text if those loopholes are determined out of the scope of this proposal.

 Eight of ten community boards and nearly a dozen elected officials in Manhattan whose districts would be impacted have placed their support behind a zoning text amendment limiting the use of excessive mechanical voids in buildings, while providing suggestions for improvements. The two community boards that disapproved did so conditionally, asking City Planning to go further in its proposal toward the goal of closing zoning loopholes.

Homeless New Yorkers and Advocates Demand Construction of More Housing for Homeless New Yorkers at Town Hall

Friday, March 8, 2019

Groups Call on Elected Officials and Mayor to Include 30,000 Units for Homeless Households, with 24,000 to be Created Through New Construction in Housing New York 2.0 Plan

 Homelessness in NYC Remains at Record Levels, with more than 63,000 people – including 23,000 Children and All-Time High 17,700 Single Adults – Sleeping in Shelters Each Night

NEW YORK, NY – Advocates and homeless New Yorkers hosted a town hall meeting with elected officials to call on Mayor de Blasio to increase the number of apartments set aside for homeless New Yorkers in his Housing New York 2.0affordable housing plan to 30,000 units, with 24,000 of those units to be created through new construction.

St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum to Be Commemorated by The Spence School in Partnership with St. Joseph’s Church, Council Member Kallos and Community Board 8

Monday, February 25, 2019

Yorkville, NY – A new athletics and academic facility currently under construction at 412 East 90th Street by The Spence School will honor the former chapel of the St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum, in response to a request by Father Boniface Ramsey on behalf of St. Joseph’s Church of Yorkville and in partnership with Community Board 8 Manhattan and Council Member Ben Kallos.

 

The collaboration between Spence and St. Joseph’s will cover a range of projects, including the installation of a permanent commemorative plaque on the exterior of the new building in proximity to the location of the former chapel and the joint curation of an educational display to be located in the new lobby that will celebrate the rich history of St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum. In addition, the School will work with Father Ramsey on incorporating the role of St. Joseph’s into its rich curriculum on New York City history.

The partnership was formed in a meeting on Friday, February 15, 2019, convened and moderated by Council Member Ben Kallos, with Father Boniface Ramsey of St. Joseph’s Church Yorkville representatives of the School and Community Board 8 Manhattan Chair Alida Camp to discuss appropriate measures to preserve an important aspect of Yorkville neighborhood history.

 

Nyc Parks Announces $75 Million In Mayoral Funding For Ongoing Reconstruction Of East River Esplanade Projects

Thursday, February 21, 2019

NYC PARKS ANNOUNCES $75 MILLION IN MAYORAL FUNDING FOR ONGOING RECONSTRUCTION OF EAST RIVER ESPLANADE PROJECTS

State of good repair projects include Harlem, E. 90s and Midtown East sections of esplanade

Today, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, joined Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; Manhattan Deputy Borough President Matthew Washington; Council Member Ben Kallos; Mili Bonilla, Chief of Staff for Council Member Diana Ayala; Nilsa Orama, Manhattan Community Board 11 Chair; Cynthia Rodriguez, District Director for Congressman Adriano Espaillat; Terell Brock, Community Liaison for State Senator Jose M. Serrano; Barry Schneider, Manhattan Community Board 8 Parks and Waterfront Committee Co-Chair, and East Sixties Neighborhood Association President; and Judy Schneider, East Sixties Neighborhood Association to announce that Mayor Bill de Blasio has allocated additional funding, $75 million, to further East River Esplanade reconstruction projects spanning from East Midtown through East Harlem.

“Thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s continued commitment to addressing waterfront needs, we are able to continue the extensive work of bringing our beloved East River Esplanade into a state of good repair,” said Commissioner Silver. “New York City is hundreds of years old and much of the work we are doing here fixes vital infrastructure so that for decades to come we can enjoy our esplanade, greenway, and public piers.”

Monies from the $75 million funding have been allocated, in part, to three East River Esplanade projects:

The Proposed Temporary Co-Location of a Portion of East Harlem Scholars Academy with Life Sciences Secondary School in Building M645 for Two Years Beginning in the 2019 - 2020 School Year

Thursday, January 31, 2019

To the Panel on Education Policy,

 

We oppose the proposed two-year co-location of a charter school, East Harlem Scholars Academy, in the Life Sciences Secondary School building at 320 East 96th Street.

 

We are concerned that Life Sciences’ existing facilities are insufficient not only for this co-location but for the school’s current needs. We challenge the validity and accuracy of the Educational Impact Statement, which must be corrected prior to approval. The notice for this co-location was defective, leaving our office and the community unaware of the proposal. Finally, we are concerned that the Department of Education is setting up Life Sciences’ for failure by truncating the school last year, only to use the vacancies created as grounds for a co-location within months.

Historic Holocaust Remembrance Bill Passes NYC Council

Sunday, January 27, 2019

 "I am proud of my Jewish heritage and I am beyond appreciative of the sacrifices made by my grandparents who fled Anti-Semitism in Europe. It is up to us to speak out against Holocaust deniers in the era of fake news.  It is up to us to point out and teach the lessons of this genocide,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Resolution 673 makes January 27 an opportunity to remember the over 6 million souls that were taken, and the culture that was lost so that it never happens again to any group of people.”

Statement in Support of Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment by Council Member Ben Kallos

Monday, January 28, 2019

“There is something wrong when developers would rather build empty spaces to prop up the wealthy rather than building the affordable housing that 99% of New Yorkers need.
 
“Every New Yorkers should have a right to light and air, to see the sky, and should not be condemned to live in the shadows of the wealthy.
 
“Buildings on stilts looked cool on the Jetsons, but the reality is more like Blade Runner, where the poor must live in the shadows below the wealthy above.

"None of this would have been possible without expert and advocates at Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts and Landmark West!
 
"Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and City Planning Chair Lago for ensuring new buildings are not empty voids but built for people. 

Collapsing Scaffolding Targeted for Inspections by Council Members Kallos, Adams, Chin and Ampry-Samuel

Thursday, January 24, 2019

New York, NY – The 349 miles of scaffolding covering New York City has begun collapsing on the residents it is meant to protect. Under the current laws, scaffolding is self-certified for safety by the contractors who install it, without any independent inspection by the city’s Department of Buildings. Under new legislation Int. 1353 authored by Council Member Ben Kallos and sponsored by Council Members Adams, Chin and Public Housing Chair Alicka Ampry-Samuel, scaffolding that has been up for a year or more will be required to undergo safety inspections by the Buildings Department at least once every three months at the expense of the building owner. Two of the council members who are co-sponsoring the bill have had scaffolding collapses in their districts, some resulting in serious injuries.  

Statement on Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Campaign Finance and Election Reforms

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

 

Campaign Finance Reform Generally

"1.1 million New Yorkers voted for campaign finance reform in New York City politics and it is time to get big money out of Albany.

"Whether your top issue is education, transit, environment, or public safety, a precondition to winning is a public campaign finance system that forces politicians to work for voters over the interest of big money.

“The ‘Blue Wave’ of newly elected state officials must act now to get big money out before its corrupting influence can take hold as a breakwater.”

Council Member Ben Kallos introduced Int. 1130 in 2016 to reform New York City’s campaign finance system. After Kallos testified at Mayor de Blasio’s Charter Revision Commission in favor of campaign reforms, those reforms were adopted as Ballot Question 1. Kallos successfully advocated for Question 1 in the NYCCFB’s Voter Guide, actively participated in the Democracy Yes coalition, and authored opinion editorials in favor of the reforms in City and State and Medium. Kallos then authored Local Law 1 of 2019 extending the new campaign finance reforms of Ballot Question 1 to the special election for public advocate and to special elections that follow.

Mayor de Blasio Backs “Retirement Security for All” to Help New Yorkers Save for Retirement in Package Carried by Council Members Kallos & Miller

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New York, NY – Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his intention to move forward with “Retirement Security for All,” previously announced on February 25, 2016. The plan met with uncertainty following the passage of House Joint Resolutions 66 and 67 by Rep. Walberg (R-MI) and Rep. Rooney (R-FL) on March 30, 2017 and signature by Trump on April 13, 2017, to roll back regulations permitting States and Municipalities to offer retirement savings plans.

New York State Attorney General and then Public Advocate Letitia James authored legislation now re-introduced by City Council Member Ben Kallos and Civil Service and Labor Committee Chair I. Daneek Miller, Int. 888 & Int. 901, that would allow every private sector worker in New York City to save pre-tax for retirement even if their employer did not offer a 401K.

Developers Would Provide Construction Workers with Prevailing Wage and Benefits on Government Subsidized Projects under Legislation Proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


New York, NY – Affordable housing and economic development projects receiving city subsidies would be required to pay workers a prevailing wage and provide training in the classroom and on the job through apprenticeship coupled with transparency, under legislation introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos.

Construction-related injuries and deaths continued to rise for the fifth straight year to 744 injuries and 16 deaths in fiscal year 2018, approximately triple the 212 injuries and 6 deaths in fiscal year 2014 according to the Mayor’s Management Report, as reported by City and State. Over the past fiscal year, when incidents further increased by 20%, Local Law 78 of 2017 authored by Council Member Ben Kallos was implemented forcing developers to report of construction-related injuries and fatalities with new minimum fines of $2,500 for failure to report. The Local Law 78 reports have been available on a monthly basis since June 2018 from the DOB.

Revolving Door between New York City Government and Real Estate Industry Would Be Disclosed in Application Process

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Council to Have Increased Oversight of HPD’s Affordable Housing Programs as a Result of Legislation Introduced by Planning, Dispositions and Concessions Chair Kallos.
 

New York, NY – Real Estate developers will be required to disclose contacts within government agencies who have the potential to influence projects currently being considered for city subsidy. Developers will also have to disclose to the City Council their ownership interests and Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) status, as well as their efforts to hire locally, prior to seeking permission to build on city land or obtain millions in city subsidies. Introduction 1323 of 2019, authored by Council Member Ben Kallos, continues his push for transparency in government especially at the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD). This legislation forces HPD to provide the City Council with a copy of its 37-page “Compliance Package” prior to hearings so that the Council has an opportunity to review and look into contacts that may be facilitating deals for developers.

Laws to End School Bus “Nightmares” Pass City Council

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Laws to End School Bus “Nightmares” Pass City Council

GPS Devices to be Installed on All Public School Buses and Routes Shared with Parents Ahead of Time in Two Bills Sponsored by Council Member Kallos
 

New York, NY – Today, the City Council passed legislation aimed at preventing the annual back to school “nightmares.” At the start of every school year, New York City's students are stuck on buses for hours, leaving parents worrying as to where their children are. Council Member Ben Kallos introduced two bills passing the Council today as part of the STOP Act, that would give parents an opportunity prior to the school year beginning to review and challenge routes and require bus companies to test routes with dry runs. The second bill co-prime sponsored by Council Member Chaim Deutsch, requires the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) to install GPS devices on buses so parents know where their children are.

640 New Public School Seats Now Planned and Funded for Upper East Side Following Years of Advocacy by Council Member Ben Kallos

Monday, December 31, 2018

Upper East Side, NY – The Upper East Side will be getting 640 new public school seats thanks to advocacy by Council Member Ben Kallos. The seats are planned as part of an estimated $324.64 million investment to fund a total of 2,794 new public school seats for School District 2, which includes the Upper East Side, along with Tribeca and the Village (912 seats) as well as Chelsea and Midtown West (1,242 seats). The seats are outlined in the School Construction Authority and Department of Education’s proposed fiscal years 2020 – 2024 five-year capital plan. Since taking office in January of 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos has been a zealous advocate for new school seats for the Upper East Side.

Over 1,400 new public school prekindergarten through eighth-grade seats have been planned, funded or built on the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island and Midtown East since 2014, with this announcement, following direct advocacy by Council Member Kallos.

Council Member Kallos has expressed his concerns to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Department of Education, and in particular to the School Construction Authority (SCA) at hearings dating back to 2015. Kallos has consistently questioned the administration about the Upper East Side’s need for more school seats in at least half a dozen separate hearings including: May 28, 2015, March 16, 2016, May 16, 2016, March 8, 2017, March 21, 2017, March 26, 2018, April 18, 2018, and May 22, 2018. This summer, Kallos brought to the attention to the SCA that his district was at 102% elementary utilization and that with new construction, new seats were necessary to help prevent any further overcrowding.

640 New Public School Seats Now Planned and Funded for Upper East Side Following Years of Advocacy by Council Member Ben Kallos

Monday, December 31, 2018

Upper East Side, NY – The Upper East Side will be getting 640 new public school seats thanks to advocacy by Council Member Ben Kallos. The seats are planned as part of an estimated $324.64 million investment to fund a total of 2,794 new public school seats for School District 2, which includes the Upper East Side, along with Tribeca and the Village (912 seats) as well as Chelsea and Midtown West (1,242 seats). The seats are outlined in the School Construction Authority and Department of Education’s proposed fiscal years 2020 – 2024 five-year capital plan. Since taking office in January of 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos has been a zealous advocate for new school seats for the Upper East Side.

Over 1,400 new public school prekindergarten through eighth-grade seats have been planned, funded or built on the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island and Midtown East since 2014, with this announcement, following direct advocacy by Council Member Kallos.

Council Member Kallos has expressed his concerns to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Department of Education, and in particular to the School Construction Authority (SCA) at hearings dating back to 2015. Kallos has consistently questioned the administration about the Upper East Side’s need for more school seats in at least half a dozen separate hearings including: May 28, 2015, March 16, 2016, May 16, 2016, March 8, 2017, March 21, 2017, March 26, 2018, April 18, 2018, and May 22, 2018. This summer, Kallos brought to the attention to the SCA that his district was at 102% elementary utilization and that with new construction, new seats were necessary to help prevent any further overcrowding.

Letter to Gov. Cuomo on Second Avenue Subway Extension Phase 2

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

New York State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo,

Phase Il of the Second Avenue Subway ("SAS") is critical to the development and future health of my community. We are writing to ask that you lead a tour of the Phase Il extension with myself, other local elected officials, and community stakeholders in East Harlem to update us on your goals and immediate objectives of this critical project. Your leadership during Phase I of the SAS project was instrumental in its completion. It is even more important now given the opening of Phase I that we harness the momentum so that we can complete this equally important Phase Il.

Community organizations, local advocates, elected officials from all levels of government, and the residents of East Harlem strongly back the SAS Phase Il extension — which as you know — would bring the Q train from the existing 96th Street stop to 125 th Street. This has been long promised to residents of East Harlem, many of whom live in transit deserts that continue to deny its residents and my constituents access to job opportunities and educational advancement that stymies economic activity and commerce; and prevents reasonable access to hospitals and medical care, particularly for seniors. The completion of the Phase Il extension of the Second Avenue Subway will be invaluable to the constituents we both serve and demonstrate that it is more than just wealthy Upper East Siders who will benefit from these large-scale Metropolitan Transportation Authority projects. For my community, this extension will connect strap-hangers to bus services connecting to LaGuardia Airport and Metro North line that connects New York City to several counties outside of the Five Boroughs