New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

Community to Get Advance Notice in Fight Against Overdevelopment Under Proposal from Council Member Kallos

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Community to Get Advance Notice in Fight Against Overdevelopment
Under Proposal from Council Member Kallos

Transfers of Development Rights Would Trigger Public Notice

New York, NY – Communities seeking to fight back against living in the shadow of supertall buildings for billionaires seeking better views could get a new weapon in the form of a public notice provided when real estate developers transfer development rights, under legislation authored by Council Member Ben Kallos. Introduction 1701 of 2019 would require that anytime a transfer of a development site is recorded with the city a copy be provided within 5 days to the relevant Community Board, Council Member, and Borough President along with the Speaker of the City Council.
While New York City is no stranger to tall buildings, ever since the birth of Billionaire’s Row with 432 Park Avenue, developers have been using the transfer of development rights to stack all the development rights on to very small lots seeking to build narrow supertall buildings (in excess of 984 feet). Now development of out of context skyscrapers and supertalls are being proposed for residential neighborhoods at 58 Sutton, 180 East 88th Street, 249 East 62nd Street, 200 Amsterdam Avenue, and 50 West 66th Street, all of which have faced fierce community challenge. Residents involved in the transfers often do not know they are helping bring a supertall to their community and community challenges are often a race to the clock making public notice essential.
"One by one we see storefronts shutter, lights out in apartments at night, at first just buildings, then whole city blocks go abandoned, a blight in even the nicest of neighborhoods. We're solving the mystery of who is buying what so that neighbors know what is going on and the community can respond in time to do something about it," said Council Member Ben Kallos who has actually thwarted a developer's assemblage of development rights at 58 Sutton. "Residents in my district really didn't know they were helping a developer amass development rights for a supertall and once they found out with lots of work we were able to stop the developer in his tracks and cut the height down." 

Testimony to Get Big Money Out of Albany

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Executive Summary


Empower Small Dollars Over Big Money in New York State Politics


1. Match Every Dollar with a Full Public Match – match every small dollar up to the first $175 for legislative and $250 for statewide candidates up to approximately 85% of the spending limit.NYC Model 


2. Match Small Dollars with 8 to 1 Multiplier – match each of the first $175 for legislative and $250 for statewide candidates with 8 tax payer dollars from the public.NYC Model 


3. Lower Contribution Limits – lower contribution limits to $2,000 for statewide offices, $1,500 for Senators, and $1,000 for Assembly Members total per election cycle because you should not be able to give more to the Governor than the President of the United States of America.NYC Model 


Get Big Money Out


4. Ban Corporate Contributions – corporations are not people and should not be entitled to speech in the form of direct campaign contributions. The state legislature has already closed the LLC loophole. Now corporation contributions must be banned entirely.NYC Model 


5. Limit Contributions from Lobbyists or People Doing Business with the State and Do Not Match Their Money or the Money They Bundle – eliminate the appearance or actual pay to play in Albany by lowering contribution limits from lobbyists as well as those who do business with government and do not match their contributions or contributions they bundle.NYC Model 


6. Do Not Match Big Dollar Contributions candidates should be forced to actually solicit small dollars from residents go get public matching funds, big money over $250 or $175 should not be matched with public dollars.New 


Attract More Candidates and Voters Now 


7. Empower Residents to Run for Office – automatically allow candidates who qualify for public matching to be on the ballot as an alternative to archaic petition requirements.New 


8. Limit Candidate Spending – institute spending caps on Assembly and Senate primary and general elections to keep them competitive.NYC Model 


9. Limit Public Match in Non-Competitive Races – candidates who are not facing serious challenges should not receive public funds.NYC Model 


10. Provide a Voter Guide Online and Available by Mail Complete with Donor Disclosures – provide every voter with a guide for what is on the ballot including whether candidates are participating in public finance, with a pie chart showing where they get their money, broken down by industry.New 


11. Eliminate War Chests and Kill All the Zombie Committees – prohibit non-participant war chests by requiring candidates to have only one authorized committee at a time with any remaining funds paid to the state after each election. This will help defray costs and keep the program under $100 million.New 


12. Require Minimum Raise from New York State Residents to Qualify for Matching – candidates must raise 20% of the funds necessary for a full public funds payment from New York State residents.NYC Model 


13. Require Support from Residents in the District to Qualify for Matching – establish a threshold of $5-minimum contributions from residents in district to qualify for matching funds of 75 such contributions for candidates for Assembly, 150 for Senate, and 1,000 for statewide office.NYC Model 


Ethics Reform


14. Prohibit Campaign Spending that Benefits Candidates – candidates, family, and friends must not personally benefit from the campaign funds, which can be prevented by prohibiting non-campaign expenditures such as paying for relatives, cars, meals, tuition, international travel, or home improvement.NYC Model 


15. Prohibit Coordination with Independent Expenditures – strict liability for sharing consultants between a candidate and an independent expenditure in their favor.New 


16. Maintain Fusion Voting – provided there is more than one candidate, those candidates should be free to run on multiple party lines.NYC Model 




17. Limiting Costs to Under $100 Million - elections for open seats draw the most candidates in the most competitive elections whereas without term limits incumbents and their challengers rarely receive a full public matching grant minimizing the overall cost.

18. Act Now – implement new program in time for the 2020 election when many New Yorkers will participate for the first time because of the Presidential elections. Initial rollout in 2020 would also provide an opportunity to test the new program in a year when no statewide races are planned, allowing it to scale up to a full rollout in 2022. The New York City Campaign Finance Board could initially administer races taking place completely within New York City.

Following U.S. Open New Yorkers Have A Place to Play Indoor Tennis for $10 All Winter Thanks to Parks, Maloney, Brewer, Quart & Kallos

Monday, September 9, 2019

Following U.S. Open New Yorkers Have A Place to Play Indoor Tennis for $10 All Winter Thanks to Parks, Maloney, Brewer, Quart & Kallos

30 Children to Receive Full Scholarships for 30 Weeks of Free Tennis Instruction


Midtown East, NY – On the heels of the U.S. Open hosted by New York City those inspired to one day compete or just play more tennis will have an indoor bubble with clay tennis courts that they can drop-in to during the off-season for just $10 mornings, afternoons, and evenings, with advocacy and support from Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Dan Quart.

During the 30-week Winter Season that will run from September 16, 2019 through April 12, 2020:


  • $10 per person drop-ins for 6 hours every day, one-third of the time it is open,

weekday mornings (6am-8am), afternoons (1pm-3pm), and late evening (10pm-12am) as well as weekend mornings (6am-8am) and evenings (8pm-12am).

  • Senior Citizens Tennis Clinics for $10 a person during certain weekday morning and afternoon hours and Cardio Tennis on weekdays from 7 am to 8 am. 6 players max per clinic.
  • Thirty (30) Full Scholarships, ranging from $1,970 to $3,595 in value for Pee Wee and Junior Development for children ages 3 and up to get up to 34 hours of training over the course of 30 weeks on a rolling basis.

 In addition, during the Winter Season, there will be the following community partnerships:

  • City Parks Foundation (“CPF”) for up to 16 court hours per week with $5 per-person rate for its Play Today Program participants for advanced juniors.
  • Yorkville Youth Athletic Association (“YYAA”) for 2 hours per week on four courts each with a professional tennis instructor.
  • Hunter College Men’s and Women’s Tennis will get 75 hours of free team practice.

 During the 22-week Summer Season that runs from April 13, 2020, to September 13, 2020, there will be:

  • Free tennis for NYC Parks tennis permit holders. Parks’ permits are available for $10 for children, $20 for seniors 62 and old, and $100 for all others, plus drop-in fee of $15 to reserve a court.
  • Free Senior Citizen Clinics & Cardio + Pee Wee & Junior Development on two courts for one hour every day of the week.

Upper East Side Dad Secures New Basketball Courts in Four-Year Civics Lesson for Sons with a Little Help from Council Member Ben Kallos

Thursday, September 5, 2019

UES Dad Secures New Basketball Courts in Four-Year Civics Lesson for Sons with a Little Help from Council Member Ben Kallos

Four-Year Quest for Basketball Court Improvement Ends in Win for Parent and Children

Basketball Court Renovation Ribbon Cutting


Upper East Side, NY – An Upper East Side dad, Greg Davis, whose two sons play basketball in John Jay Park, wouldn’t take no for an answer as he persisted for four-years alongside Council Member Ben Kallos for the city Parks Department to improve dilapidated courts. The courts were nothing more than cracked asphalt, rusted metal backboards, and badly angled net-less hoops. Greg succeeded in getting improvements done by the Parks Department, with newly painted playing lines, a smooth playing surface, and three new polycarbonate backboards with shooting square and nets. 

Over the course of four years Greg Davis had nearly perfect attendance at more than 40 First Friday meetings in-person with Council Member Ben Kallos from 8am to 10am each month. Each month Greg shared his work with the Council Member’s staff, 311 requests, and direct advocacy with Community Board 8, and with the Park Department.

Advocacy initially began in 2015; the improvements started in 2016 with getting lines painted so the courts could have a clearly delineated free throw lines. In 2017, advocacy focused on painting a three-point arc, sidelines and the baselines. The next year focused on getting the entire court of play painted, removing the weeds and smoothing over the crack on the courts surface. Later in 2018 Parks Department promised new backboards and this year they were installed with $7,500 in discretionary funding from Council Member Ben Kallos.

Ribbon Cut on New 180 Seat Pre-Kindergarten Center for Four-Year-Olds on the Upper East Side

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Ribbon Cut on New 180 Seat Pre-Kindergarten Center for Four-Year-Olds on the Upper East Side

Upper East Side, NY – The day before public schools start in New York City, a ribbon was cut on a new 180-seat pre-kindergarten center to serve four-year-olds on the Upper East Side by School Construction Authority President Lorraine Grillo, Director of Early Childhood Education Aneesha Jacko, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, and Council Member Ben Kallos.

Speaker Corey Johnson Unveils Plan To Combat Food Inequity In New York City

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The report, Growing Food Equity in New York City, highlights the City’s hunger problem and offers solutions so all New Yorkers have access to healthy, affordable food

Brooklyn, NY– Today, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson shared his plan to address food inequity in New York City. The Speaker’s report outlines the City’s current hunger problems, including a lack of access to healthy and affordable food for New Yorkers in low-income communities and communities of color. The report also discusses how to improve urban agriculture and reduce food waste. Solutions include empowering the City’s Office of Food Policy, improving school food programs and expanding effective initiatives such as Health Bucks.

“New York City is one of the richest cities in the world. Yet more than one million of our residents are considered food insecure. That’s unacceptable. Food is a human right, which means as a city we need to establish food policies to help ensure that none of our residents are going hungry or relying on unhealthy foods to survive because they don’t have the means or access to nutritious meals. These proposals are my vision for food justice for New York City. I want to create a better New York where equitable food policies are front and center in everything we do,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.

Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Spreads Awareness of Impacts of Climate Change on People with Disabilities

Saturday, August 17, 2019

New York—The New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, NYC Emergency Management, disability advocates, elected officials, and allies today walked and rolled alongside Canada To Key West supporters from the High Line to the Oculus at the World Trade Center in order to highlight the effects of climate change on people with disabilities.

As a result of climate change, extreme weather events including hurricanes, severe rainstorms, and heat waves are becoming more frequent and more severe. It is critical that emergency preparedness efforts account for the needs of everyone, including the estimated one billion people around the world who live with self-disclosed disabilities. The de Blasio Administration has taken steps in expanding this preparedness by enhancing our Advance Warning System messaging, making accessibility enhancements on our Hurricane Zone Map and continually expanding Ready New York for Disability Access & Functional Needs populations.

Upper East Side Residents and Elected Officials Welcome Win Supportive Housing Facility for Women and Children to the Neighborhood

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Upper East Side Residents and Elected Officials Welcome Win Supportive Housing Facility for Women and Children to the Neighborhood

New York, NY – Today residents and community leaders on the Upper East Side, including Congress Member Carolyn Maloney and Council Member Ben Kallos, joined Win, New York’s largest provider of shelter and supportive housing to homeless women and their children, to cut the ribbon on and welcome a supportive housing facility that will house sixteen families at 316 East 91st  Street. The ceremony was attended by Win President and CEO Christine Quinn, State Senator Liz Krueger, State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks. Community Board 8, faith and non-profit leaders, as well as principals, parents, and children who attend schools across the street from the new site were also in attendance.


Friday, August 16, 2019

Break in protected bike lane near Queensboro Bridge had been a source of concern among
cyclists; Second Avenue protected lane now runs uninterrupted more than four miles from 125th

Street in East Harlem to 43rd Street in Midtown


The NYC Department of Transportation announced that a gap in the 2nd Avenue protected bike lane near the Queensboro Bridge on the Upper East Side has now been closed. DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar joined Council Member Ben Kallos, Council Member Keith Powers, community leaders, and advocates for a ribbon cutting celebrating the implementation of bike lanes along Second Avenue from East 68th Street to East 59th Street – closing an important gap in the bike network leading to the Queensboro BridgeThe Second Avenue lane now runs uninterrupted from 125th Street to 43rdStreet. 

“Second Avenue is not just an important thoroughfare for cyclists, it is a corridor shared by all road users,” said Manhattan Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar. “As part of the Mayor’s Green Wave plan, we are committed to even more protected bike lanes, and closing this gap makes the road safer for everyone. Cyclists, of course, get safer passage along a heavily used corridor -- giving them an uninterrupted protected route from East Harlem to the Queensboro Bridge -- and beyond. A huge thank you goes out to our partner Council Member Kallos for his advocacy for this project.” 

“Pedestrian and cyclist safety is first and foremost in my office. The Second Avenue bike gap was dangerous; a tragedy waiting to happen,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I am proud of the work my office has done over the years alongside the Department of Transportation to successfully close the bike gap and make that section of Second Avenue safe. Now Upper East Side cyclists who want to bike downtown can do so without risking their fearing a collision. Thank you to the Department of Transportation for this creative and effective fix. I am positive closing the bike gap has saved lives.” 

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Allowing New York City to Install Stop-Arm Cameras on School Buses

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

"Today Governor Cuomo signed legislation giving municipalities like New York City the right to install stop-arm cameras on school buses in an effort to increase safety for children getting on and off buses throughout the state.”

“Thanks to legislation I have authored and will be introducing in the coming days, New York City is ready to take this on so we can better protect our children.”

“My 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.” 
“We have all seen it happen on our roads, irresponsible drivers going around school buses that have the stop arm in the down position because children are either entering or exiting the bus. This behavior is reckless and should not be tolerated. Now is the perfect time to do whatever we can to teach drivers that this behavior will have punitive 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 2019 Charter Revision Questions

Thursday, July 25, 2019

“The 2019 Charter Revision Commission has heard the voice of residents from all five boroughs over the last year proposing questions to reform elections with ranked choice voting, improve police community relations by empowering the Civilian Complaint Review Board, strengthen ethics protections by extending the revolving door for elected officials and senior officials from one to two years, create a citywide office dedicated to contracting with women and people of color, protect the independence of the Public Advocate and Borough Presidents with minimum budgets, and give communities early involvement in neighborhood planning.

Black Latino Asian and Progressive Caucuses Demand Immediate Employment Termination of Officer Pantaleo

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

After the Justice Department recently declined to pursue federal charges against a New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in response to the 2014 death of Eric Garner, members of the City Council, the Black, Latino, Asian and Progressive Caucuses and Public Advocate Williams gathered with advocates at 1 Police Plaza to demand that NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill terminate Officer Pantaleo immediately. On Thursday, July 18, 2019, the Caucuses sent a joint letter to Commissioner O’Neill, demanding the immediate firing of Officer Pantaleo.

One in Five Homicides in New York City from Domestic Violence; Council Bill Sheds Light on Underreporting and Policy Failures Leading to Injuries and Deaths

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

NEW YORK, NY—Domestic violence now accounts for one in every five homicides and two in every five reported assaults in New York City. Domestic violence crimes are one of the most underreported crimes in this country with reporting rates of less than 30 percent. As New York City touts some lower crime numbers such as murder rates, domestic violence offenses like rape have actually increased despite underreporting.

Information relating to how government is responding to domestic violence has remained in the shadows but would be reported from first incidents through final resolutions under Introduction 1638-2019 authored by Council Members Ben Kallos and cosponsored by Diana Ayala and Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee Keith Powers. The bill mandates the New York Police Department and District Attorneys to report publicly on their websites on:

  • Survivor Outcomes – Final resolution for individuals who suffered domestic violence once police and district attorney are involved, specifically how many are injured, hospitalized, or killed.
  • Police Response – What the NYPD does when they are informed about a domestic violence incident, the number of reports filed and allegations made, and how many suspects get arrested.
  • Strength of Protections – Effectiveness of orders of protection, specifically how many are violated resulting in injury, hospitalization, or death.
  • District Attorney Resources and Prosecutions – The number of District Attorneys assigned to Domestic Violence along with their caseloads as well as charges brought and cases dropped.
  • Alternatives to Incarceration through Pleas, Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACDs), Convictions, and Dismissals – If convicted individuals were offered conditional discharge, required to complete any form of mandated training course to address behavior, sentenced to probation or sentenced to jail time and sentences.
  • Recidivism of Domestic Violence – Prior domestic violence charges and convictions for defendants.

STATEMENT: Council Member Ben Kallos on Achieving Wage Parity for All Early Childhood Educators in NYC

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

“After years of unequal pay, we finally have wage parity for the hardworking early childhood education professionals at community-based organizations who have been essential to making New York City’s historic Universal Pre-K program a reality.

“Many of the teachers who were being paid less than their colleagues were women of color. With today’s agreement, which follows years of advocacy involving, rallies, marches, and press conferences, that inequity will finally come to an end.”

“Thank you to Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and DC 1707 President Kim Medina for working together to finalize this agreement today. Congratulations to coalition that fought for wage parity and to labor groups who stood firm on behalf of their members. Most importantly, thank you to the DC 1707 members who teach and care for our city’s children every day.”

STATEMENT: In Support of New York State’s Nine-person Campaign 'Public Financing' Commission

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

STATEMENT: In Support of New York State’s Nine-person Campaign 'Public Financing' Commission

"As the author of the legislation bringing a full public matching system to New York City’s elections, I applaud New York State for taking steps to do the same.  With today’s announcement naming the appointments to the State’s nine-person campaign 'public financing' commission, New York State is one step closer to implementing a Clean Elections system or at least implementing a system like the one the New York City Council recently adopted."  

"I am confident that if the commission listens to experts over the next months, they will decide on a strong matching system that will also see contributions limits decreased. I have every reason to believe the commission will do good work and I am pleased by the appointment of Mylan Denerstein, DeNora Getachew and Henry Berger who were all appointed because of how well they know our current system and what will be required to fix it. I am confident the new nine-person campaign 'public financing' commission will come back with a report that sets parameters for a public matching system that will benefit the people of the great state of New York."


194 New Large Trash Cans Coming to the Upper East Side

Monday, July 1, 2019

194 New Large Trash Cans Coming to the Upper East Side 
Funded by Council Member Ben Kallos
Every Corner of the Upper East Side Will Have a Can Following Latest Investment

New York, NY – Litter-filled sidewalks on the Upper East Side are about to get cleaner with an investment of $135,000 from Council Member Ben Kallos for 194 new large trash cans. The new large trash cans are housed in a metal case with a dome top and a small opening that prevents trash from spilling and has been reported to deter rodents. Following this investment, every corner on the Upper East Side will have a can.

Million Dollar Investment for Pool at John Jay Park Finished in Time for Summer

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Upper East Side, NY New York City kids celebrating the first day of summer today can jump into the Upper East Side’s newly reopened John Jay Pool which has been renovated as part of a $5 Million investment in pools citywide. A ribbon cutting ceremony to reopen the pool was attended by Manhattan Parks Borough Commissioner Bill Castro and Council Member Ben Kallos. Following the ribbon cutting, Kallos cannonballed into the water to celebrate.

New York City will rally on the steps of City Hall in support of Resolution 0864-2019 Resolution declaring a climate emergency and calling for immediate emergency mobilization

Monday, June 24, 2019

New York City, NY -  New York City may soon make history as the largest city in the world to declare a climate emergency. On Monday, June 24th at 12pm, citizens of New York City will rally on the steps of City Hall in support of Resolution 0864-2019 (“Resolution declaring a climate emergency and calling for immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate.”) The NYC City Council Committee on Environmental Protection will hear testimony for the resolution, which was introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos and Environmental Protection Committee Chair Costa Constantinides. This declaration is a critical first step toward acknowledging the Climate and Ecological Crisis and moving toward a just transition for New York City to become carbon neutral. 

 October 2018’s IPCC Special Report on Global Warming shows that implementation must begin immediately - only rapid, drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and systemic changes will prevent global climate catastrophe.

“This declaration of a climate emergency by the New York City Council is an urgently needed move toward speaking truthfully in public about the undeniable empirical reality of global climate breakdown,” said Rory Varrato, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion.“In the face of this grim reality, major world cities can and must show how this dire planetary crisis can be addressed through local action. By doing so, these cities will become catalysts for the kinds of just, transformational changes we must enact if organized human life on Earth is to persist beyond the short term.” 

 The impacts of further planetary heating include droughts, food and water shortage, crop failures, mass displacement, and increasingly powerful storms, wildfires and floods, both in the US and abroad. Further, a May 6th United Nations report predicts the extinction of over one million plant and animal species due to human-caused climate change and habitat loss. This will impact every species on this planet, including human beings, in ways we cannot yet predict.