New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

Giving Parents, Schools Access to School Bus GPS Data Will Make Our Most Vulnerable Students Safer

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Giving Parents, Schools Access to School Bus GPS Data Will Make Our Most Vulnerable Students Safer

Int. 1099-2018 Will Provide Parents, Schools with Location Monitoring for School Buses

New York, NY – Legislation introduced last week in the City Council would require GPS devices to be installed on all school buses contracted with the Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT). It would also require OPT to provide real-time GPS location data to authorized individuals, such as parents and school administrators, and eliminate the problem of bus drivers and escorts fielding frantic and angry calls from parents and schools when they are supposed to be focused on doing their jobs safely.

The new legislation was introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos and is co-sponsored by Education Chair Mark Treyger and Council Member Chaim Deutch who worked on an earlier version of the bill as a staffer for Council Member Michael Nelson in 2000. The bill comes as a result of years of complaints by schools, parents, and advocates about the many systemic issues plaguing OPT, including missing buses, chronic delays in bus arrivals and pick-ups, poor routing, failure to abide by medical codes for disabled students, a lack of specific training for drivers and escorts working with disabled children, and unsanctioned routing changes.

"No parent should wonder where their child is or when their child is finally getting home from a school bus ride gone off track. Parents would rest assured knowing when and where their school bus is to pick up or drop off their child using an app on their phone," said Council Member Ben Kallos a new parent. "After trying to work with the Office of Pupil Transportation for years I am disappointed that despite every promise parents still don't know where a school bus is with their child. Thank you to Education Chair Mark Treyger for his leadership, Council Member Chaim Deutsch who has spent 18 years working on this issue starting under then Council Member Michael Nelson."

Illustrating Historical Data for the Digital Age

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Illustrating Historical Data for the Digital Age

 Municipal Archives to be Searched for Data that should be on the Open Data Portal an Effort to Make It Accessible and Easy to Understand

 New York, NY – Access to information in New York City’s Open Data Portal to be improved by several pieces of legislation heard today in the Committee on Technology. The improvements will add historical data from municipal Archives including charts and graphs that have largely been missing since the Portal’s creation in 2012. The legislation is part of the City’s ongoing effort to make government data available for all in an easily accessible format.

 Introduction 1098, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, requires the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) to conduct a complete survey of its records for “statistical or factual information” contained within lists, tables, graphs, charts, or other “non-narrative forms.” Each will be evaluated for inclusion on the Open Data Portal based on “sufficient public value.” Records will be judged based on historical, research, and cultural value, clarity and completeness, and whether the information each contains has previously been requested for release.

 “The Open Data Portal empowers New Yorkers with valuable information needed in order to learn about city services. It is an invaluable tool for elected officials like myself to analyze and oversee how our city delivers services promised,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This legislation will expand and clarify the information and historical data appearing on the portal. It will help policy-makers and the public evaluate programs, better plan for the future.”

 The survey, to be completed by July 2021, will be conducted in consultation with members of the public from historic, research, cultural, and academic institutions.

SCA to Disclose Methods for Deciding Where New Schools are Built Thanks to Legislation Introduced by Council Member Kallos

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New York, NY – Today, the City Council will require the SCA to disclose the methodology and formulas they use to decide where and when new schools are built. A majority of New York City public elementary and middle school students attend overcrowded schools, yet the City plans to build fewer school seats than in the past, ignoring current overcrowding and future need.i] The new measure Introduction 729 is authored by Council Member Kallos as part of a package of bills aimed at making the Department and Education and the School Construction Authority more transparent and accountable to the public.
In February of 2017, in response to parents, educators, and students across the City, the Council announced a working group to study ways to improve education in New York City. After a year, the working group returned with a report titled “Planning to Learn: The School Building Challenge,” which highlights the importance of Local Law 72, also authored by Council Member Kallos-and recommends the passage of Introduction 729, which requires all methodologies and underlying data used to determine school need to be shared with the public.

New Universal Pre-K Facility Serving 90 Families Opens on the Upper Side

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New Universal Pre-K Facility Serving 90 Families Opens on the Upper Side

The new Site located at 1683 3rd Avenue Street Opens its Doors after years of Advocacy from Council Member Kallos and local Parents for more UPK Seats  

 Upper East Side, NY- The New York City Department of Education and Council Member Ben Kallos opened the doors to 90 Pre-K students today as the newest Pre-K Center opened on the Upper East Side.PRE_K

The newly built Pre-Kindergarten facility is located at 1683 3rd Avenue Street. The new site opened last week for the first day of school, and is currently serving 90 new Pre-K for All students. This facility is part of the City’s new push to build and open more Pre-Kindergarten seats on the Upper East Side after years of public advocacy from Council Member Ben Kallos and local parents to the Department of Education to fulfill the area’s need and live up to the promise of Pre-Kindergarten for all children in New York City.

The new 11,492 square foot site was constructed in partnership with Extell Development Company. The facilities will be on the ground floor of an 83-unit, 30-story new residential building in heart of the East 90s.

For the 2017-18 school year, 736 families applied for a total of 550 Pre-Kindergarten spots on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island. The unmet demand forced parents to consider enrolling their children in Pre-Kindergarten sites as far away as downtown Manhattan. This push by the City to increase the number of Pre-Kindergarten seats in Council District 5 includes another new center that is currently serving 140 students on East 57th, and a 180-seat site on East 76th street that will open in Fall 2019, totaling more than 400 new Pre-K seats.

Charter Revision, Final Ballot Language Adopted

Thursday, September 6, 2018

“It’s up to New Yorkers to vote big money out of politics this November. Democracy in New York City will finally get better if passed by reducing contribution limits and making small dollars more valuable by matching more of them with a greater multiplier. Increasing public money in elections from just over half to 75% will dramatically decrease the amount of big money Mayoral candidates need to raise in unmatchable contributions from $2.6 million down to just over $1 million,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, whose proposals were included in the Commission’s adopted ballot initiative. “The 2018 Charter Revision Commission did extensive outreach in all five boroughs in-person, by phone, and even by Twitter, and today’s vote is evidence that they listened to the people of this great city. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and the Commission for getting ‘around politics as usual’ to put these necessary campaign finance reforms on the ballot for the people to make real lasting change.”  

Speaker Corey Johnson Announces Support for Legislation to Empower Parents by Establishing a Default Beverage Standard in Children’s Meals

Thursday, August 23, 2018

 City HallNY – Speaker Corey Johnson on Thursday announced he is championing legislation to establish water, milk or 100 percent juice as the default beverage options in children’s meals sold in New York City. This legislation will promote healthier choices for children, which is a priority for the Council, while giving parents the ability to choose what is best for their children.

 “We know that healthy habits begin at an early age, which is why I am proudly advancing this legislation. We want our kids to have access to healthy choices, and the default beverage options under this bill supports that goal,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “The beverage industry understands how important it is to support parent’s decisions about what their young children eat and drink, and I am pleased to have the support of the American Beverage Association and its members The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo, among others, for this legislation. This is an example of how government and industry can work together to have impact.”

NYC Ferry Soundview Route Sets Sail: De Blasio Administration Launches Ferry Service Connecting The Bronx, The Upper East Side, Midtown, and Lower Manhattan

Thursday, August 23, 2018

"The Upper East Side is thrilled to finally have our very own NYC Ferry stop along the Soundview route," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "NYC Ferry continues to connect New Yorkers to our waterfront while reducing the burden on our City's public transportation system while helping New Yorkers get from A to B quicker, easier and more enjoyably. This ferry stop was a promise I made to this district when I ran for office five years ago, so it is special seeing it ready to launch. Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Economic Development Corporation President James Patchett for making these ferries a reality."

Statement of Council Member Ben Kallos on the Adoption of Campaign Finance and Community Board Reforms by Mayor’s Charter Revision Commission on Democracy

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Campaign Finance Reform
“Democracy in New York City could finally get better by reducing contribution limits by more than half and making small dollars more valuable by matching more of them with a greater multiplier. Though I advocated for a full public match of every small dollar, this will increase from matching a little more than half of small dollars to matching three-quarters of small dollars. Increasing the public match will dramatically decrease the amount of money Mayoral candidates need to raise in unmatchable contributions from $3.28 million to just over $1 million,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, whose recommendations were included in the Commission’s adopted resolution.
Community Board Reforms
“Community Boards will start to be more representative of their communities with the support they need to take on over-development and plan for the future with terms limits, urban planners, a citywide standardized application, and reporting on vacancies and demographics,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who advocated for all of these Community Board reforms before the Commission.
“The Mayor’s Charter Revision Commission did extensive outreach in all five boroughs in-person, by phone, and even by Twitter, and today’s resolution is proof positive that they listened to the people of this great city. Now it is those people who must vote these proposals through to take back their city,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who testified at every opportunity before the Commission. “Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for creating this Commission with a focus on improving Democracy which has proposed these necessary reforms that could not get done through the typical political process.”

Transcript of Call to Mayor's Charter Revision Commission on Democracy Tele-Townhall

Thursday, August 9, 2018

All reforms start with getting big money out of politics with a full public match of every dollar which would finally allow candidates to run for office without soliciting big money. Through this change we can ensure that elected officials make better appointments to the community boards without having to satisfy special interests.

Term Limits are a good thing and [are] necessary to ensure that these bodies reflect their communities and create a culture of getting things done and foster mentoring and the passing on of institutional memory. Community Boards should have term limits to, whether following recommendations from Citizens Union or my proposal for two four year terms staggered with Council Members and Borough Presidents.

Community Boards with Term Limits will need dedicated urban planner. This would empower Community Boards in rezoning, variances in front of the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) applications to review. Absent even those, planners can devote resources to studying how a community district can grow while planning for future need, how urban planning can positively affect public safety issues and community violence, and how to preserve business ownership and encourage new business and development in blighted areas.

With so many contentious rezoning before the City Council like Inwood yesterday, Community Boards along with their Borough Board and their Borough President must be able to initiate grassroots community rezonings Uniform Land Use Review Procedures (ULURP) completely funded by the City or with a triple no have a veto.

American Heart Association Supports New Council Bill Addressing Kids Meals

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


American Heart Association Supports New Council Bill Addressing Kids Meals

Proposed legislation aims to reduce sugar consumption among NYC Children by defaulting to non-sugary drinks in kid's meals

"The new normal should be healthy meal and drink options for our children no matter where they are eating, "said Council Member Ben Kallos. “If we get this part down, at every food establishment serving kids it will make it much easier and simpler to raise happy healthy children."

CM Kallos Letter to Parks and DOT Re: Request for Proposals for the Development, Operation, and Maintenance of a Sports & Recreational Facility, Queensboro Oval,

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Re: Request for Proposals for the Development, Operation, and Maintenance of a Sports & Recreational Facility, Queensboro Oval, Manhattan, Solicitation #M70-O-2017, Issued

February 16, 2018, Due March 23, 2018

Dear Commissioners Silver and Trottenberg,

As you are likely aware, Council District 5, which I represent, has among the least acreage of park land per person in the city. As such, East Siders cherish and fight for their parks.

For many years, community members have fought for access to the land underneath the Queensboro Bridge, known as the Queensboro Oval, which I understand is owned by the Department of Transportation, but which the city made an official Playground in 1909. Since the 1970s, the park has been leased to an exclusive private tennis club, for a gradually expanding season and the concessionaire has left the field in poor condition during the summer months it is open to the public, leaving this space unattractive and unusable.

Over the past four and a half years, I have worked with community leaders, Community Board 8, and my fellow elected officials to advocate for the return of this land to the public, as a year-round public park.

After sharing with the community an initial proposal to build a new public recreation facility at the site, the Parks Department issued on February 16 of this year a Request for Proposals (RFP) that appears skewed towards keeping site’s current use in place. Please consider working together to resurface the Queensboro Oval as a public amenity without fees.

Letter on Unbuildable Zoning Lots to the Board of Standards and Appeals

Monday, July 16, 2018

Dear Chair Perlmutter and Honorable Members of the Board:

We ask the Board of Standards and Appeals to prohibit the creation of unbuildable lots designed to evade zoning regulations. Allowing developers to create unbuildable lots that serve no purpose other than to avoid zoning regulations has serious implications for New York City not just Manhattan. In this example at 180 East 88th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the creation of a tiny new lot between the development site and the street serves only as a physical ploy so the building can circumvent zoning regulations that apply to buildings when they front a street. As a result of this tactic, the building does not come to the street, and instead can be built taller with a private residential plaza, which zoning no longer allows.

Testimony to the Board of Standards and Appeals RE: 2017-290-A, 1558 Third Avenue (a.k.a. 180 East 88 th Street), Manhattan In Support of Appeal of DOB Determination

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Testimony to the Board of Standards and Appeals  RE: 2017-290-A, 1558 Third Avenue (a.k.a. 180 East 88 th Street), Manhattan  In Support of Appeal of DOB Determination

Thank you to Chair Perlmutter and the members of the Board of Standards and Appeals for the opportunity to testify in support of the community’s appeal of the Department of Building’s determination to allow the construction of a tower at 1558 Third Avenue—or 180 East 88th Street as it is marketed—despite its frontage on 88th Street, which should require it to conform to Tower on a Base zoning.

The Buildings Department allowed a tower, because the developer carved out a micro-sized, unbuildable sham zoning lot to make it appear as if the building did not front 88th Street.

I strongly support the community’s appeal because this lot was created purely for the purpose of evading the zoning code, and I urge the Board of Standards and Appeals to uphold the spirit of the zoning code and overrule the Buildings Department’s determination.

This building will rise more than 500 feet high, with a blank open space running back from 88th street, rather than a street wall coordinated with the height of neighboring buildings. Furthermore, the portion of the building facing 88th Street will be much higher than would be allowed under the sliver rule.

New Tool: Mayor de Blasio and DCP Announce Real Time Information on NYC Land Use Proposals Now Just a Click Away

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Easy-to-use Zoning Application Portal – ZAP – includes status of active applications and project data dating to 1970

Access it here – and on your mobile device

July 24, 2018 – Mayor de Blasio and Department of City Planning Director Marisa Lago today announced the launch of ZAP, DCP’s exciting new Zoning Application Portal. The web-based data tool makes details and status of all zoning and land use applications directly available to the public, with an intuitive map-based interface. 

“The online portal makes searches for a zoning-change application, whether large or small, accessible to everyone – including New Yorkers like me who aren’t architects or city planners. I congratulate the Department of City Planning for this user friendly and transparent search tool,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“This online tool is the ultimate in planning and zoning transparency. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s intuitive. We hope that New Yorkers – residents, advocacy groups, property and business owners – take full advantage, and get more involved in planning for our city’s future. Either way, check out ZAP. It’s way cool!” Director Marisa Lago said.

ZAP offers easy searches for land use applications, including pending applications, with a variety of useful search filters. It includes about 28,000 projects, dating back to 1970 when DCP began digitizing project application data.  About 500 of them are currently in public review. 

ZAP, which can be searched, features direct links to DCP tools and other City databases by project address to ZoLa(DCP’s Zoning & Land Use map), the Department of Buildings’ BISWeb and the Department of Finance’s ACRIS sites.  

Firehouse on Upper East Side Gets Over Half a Million Dollars from Council Member Ben Kallos

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

New York, NY – The Upper East Side’s firehouse just received $525,000 in discretionary funding from Council Member Ben Kallos. The firehouse located at 159 East 85th Street is the only one in the Council Member’s district and home of Engine Company 22, Ladder Tower 13 and Battalion 10. $375,000 will be used to weatherize windows and $150,000 will be used to modernize the fire door.

 The Council Member was joined by Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA) President Jake Lemonda and his Executive Board, Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) Vice President LeRoy McGinnis and Manhattan Trustee Vincent Speciale, as well as FDNY 3rd Division Deputy Chief Coyne and FDNY Battalion Chief Edward Burgess.


Testimony to the New York City Charter Revision Commission on the Preliminary Staff Report

Monday, July 23, 2018

The three most important reforms for this Charter Revision Commission are:

  1. Get Big Money Out of New York City Politics – of all the options presented there is only one way that will actually get big money out of New York City politics and that is by matching every small dollar contribution with public dollars. Anything less than matching every small dollar will leave an incentive to seek and accept large dollar contributions that at worst have a corrupting influence and at best create the appearance of impropriety.
  2. Term Limits for Community Boards – as we seek to empower Community Boards, term limits are necessary to ensure that these bodies reflect their communities and create a culture of getting things done and foster mentoring and the passing on of institutional memory.
  3. Binding Land Use Powers for Community Boards and Borough Presidents – the Community Boards along with their Borough Board and their Council Member or Borough President must be able to initiate Uniform Land Use Review Procedures (ULURP) completely funded by the City or with a triple no have a veto.

Please note that any reforms to the Community Boards are meaningless without full public matching, as those appointed will still answer to their Council Members and Borough President, whom without it may still have to answer to big moneyed donors and special interests.

Executive Summary of Campaign Finance Recommendations

Get Big Money Out of New York City Politics

Support Match Every Dollar with a Full Public Match – increase the public match from 55% to match every small dollar (approximately 85% of the spending limit).

Support Lower Dollars Matched and Increase Multiplier – reduce the matching of only the first $175 to $100 of a contribution from a city resident with the matching rate increased from 6 to 1 to 10 to 1 for a total of $1,100.

Support Lower Contribution Limits – lower contribution limits to $2,000 for citywide and $1000 for borough and City Council because you should not be able to give more to the Mayor than the President.

New Stop Matching Big Dollar Contributions Stop matching big donations over $175–ideally lowered to $100–with public dollars and force big money candidates to actually solicit small dollars from residents if they want public matching funds.

New Eliminate War Chests and Kill All the Zombie Committees – bring back prohibitions against non-participant war chests by repealing Local Law 189 of 2016 and requiring candidates in New York City to have only one authorized committee at a time with any remaining funds paid to the city after each election.

Expand Candidates and Voters Now

Support 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.

Support Automatic Voter Registration – government should use all opportunities of interaction to register voters or update voter registration information.

New Separate Voter Assistance and Campaign Finance – the administration of the public matching funds must be done impartially and separated from legislative advocacy, voter registration, and voter engagement.

New Lifetime Term Limits – eliminate the revolving door between the Albany legislature and New York City Council with lifetime term limits for city offices.

Support Act Now – the unique environment of the 2021 election presents the only meaningful opportunity to enact reform.

Executive Summary of Recommendations for Community Boards

Better Representation and Reflection of Community

Support Term Limits for Community Board Members and Leadership – community boards must no longer be a lifetime appointment and must have term limits for membership as well as for leadership positions.


New End Automatic Reappointment with Standardized, Public Applications – applications must be publicly available online and in print with everyone required to submit an application with non-confidential information.

New Ensure Representation with Automatic Removal for Non-Attendance – the Charter currently provides for removal for non-attendance by the community board or the Borough President, which is rarely used, and should be strengthened with automatic vacancies.

New Prohibit the Appointment of Partisan Party Officials or Lobbyists - – de-politicize community boards so they serve the community, not the interests of elected officials, political parties, or the special interests of lobbyists.


Land Use Powers for Community Boards and Borough Presidents


New Binding Land Use Power to Initiate or Veto ULURP – community boards must be able to initiate or veto ULURPs with support from Borough Board and Council Member or Borough President.


Support Urban Planners for Every Community Board – each community board, especially those that do not see a need, would have the resources needed to achieve their Charter mandate for planning.

Support Office of Community Planning – in order to assist and coordinate their Charter mandate for planning, community boards need an office that answers to them and not the Mayor.


Support Member Training – provide community board members with the knowledge they need to be effective with mandatory training on conflicts of interest, budget and the contracting process, zoning and ULURP, Board of Standards and Appeals, as well as landmarks.


Oppose District Boundaries – overlapping boundaries with multiple elected officials strengthens boards and provides better representation while tying boundaries to Constitutional mandates for one person one vote would needlessly gerrymander and split communities.

Community Groups’ Collaboration with Council Member Kallos and New York City Parks Department Result in Dozens of New Tree Guards Installed to Protect and Preserve Upper East Side Trees

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Upper East Side, NY – On Wednesday July 18, local community groups including the East 86th Street Association, the East 60s Neighborhood Association, the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association and Upper Greenside came together with Council Member Ben Kallos and the New York City Parks Department to celebrate the installation of a significant number of the tree guards requested by Council Member Kallos and the community for the Upper East Side.

Council Member Kallos allocated a total of $175,000 from his discretionary funding in FY 2018 to get the 98 tree guards installed. With the help of the community groups, the work is now very much under way.

Just months ago Council Member Kallos and the New York City Parks Department announced 19 new trees valued at $38,000 provided by the MTA and 17 new tree guards to protect them, and plantings along  Second Avenue at the cost of $30,600 provided by Council Member Ben Kallos. This was an expansion of his Adopt-A-Planter program launched in 2014 along the First Avenue protected bike lane.

As covered by PIX 11 News in 2014 Council Member Kallos secured approvals from NYC Parks and the Department of Transportation for residents to adopt planters with and without trees to beautify them with training and materials from Upper Green Side. Over the past four years, the Adopt-A-Planter participants have requested tree guards to protect trees and plantings.