New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

AM New York

AM New York Tenant housing court history could become a protected class under city bill by By Sarina Trangle

Tenant housing court history could become a protected class under city bill

In a bid to root out so-called tenant blacklisting, the city may expand its list of protected classes to include people who have been involved in housing court cases.

At a hearing Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration indicated it supported a bill that would empower the city's Commission on Human Rights to investigate when New Yorkers believe a landlord opted not to rent to them because of their history in housing court.

Earlier this summer, the state banned this practice, often referred to as tenant blacklisting. Lawyers who represent renters have long spoken out against owners that reject anyone included in databases of people who have been involved in any housing court action — even in cases that tenants win — over the past seven years.

The state's prohibition, however, exclusively tasks the attorney general with enforcement and does not allow renters to take owners to court with their own attorneys.

AM New York Rally against anti-Semitism held on Upper East Side by AM News Staff

Rally against anti-Semitism held on Upper East Side

A rally against anti-Semitism was held Sunday at Asphalt Green, where protesters held signs and called for unity after swastikas were found painted at the recreation center and in the wake of the mosque shootings in New Zealand. (Credit: Todd Maisel)

AM New York New rules proposed to curb abuse of 'mechanical voids' in high-rises by Sarina Trangle

New rules proposed to curb abuse of 'mechanical voids' in high-rises

West Side, Upper East Side, Queens and the Bronx.

The limits seemed lax to several elected officials and neighborhood groups in Manhattan, who claimed at a hearing Wednesday that the regimen would still allow the proliferation of places like 432 Park Ave., where mechanical voids account for about 25 percent of — and illuminate patches at night of — the 1,396-foot tall condo, according to City Councilman Ben Kallos. 

"We need to pass it immediately due to the sheer number of buildings that are coming down the pipeline that want to use voids to get additional height," Kallos said. "There is always room for improvement, and I am concerned it doesn't go far enough."

Trade groups representing engineers and developers, however, said the framework proposed was not flexible enough for the breadth of buildings it could regulate and raised concerns about it impeding energy efficiency and other construction advancements.

"By restraining innovation at a time when the means of achieving operational and energy efficiencies are rapidly evolving, the legislation could cost the city opportunities for future use of the most advanced and appropriate mechanical health and safety systems," said Paul Selver, a member of the Real Estate Board of New York trade group representing landlords and developers.

Kallos, reading testimony on behalf of 10 other Manhattan politicians, suggested mechanical spaces that stretch beyond 14-feet in height be calculated into buildings' permitted square footage; and grace spaces only be allowed every 200, rather than 75, feet.

AM New York New rules proposed to curb abuse of 'mechanical voids' in high-rises by Sarina Trangle

New rules proposed to curb abuse of 'mechanical voids' in high-rises

City planners have not managed to avoid critiques with their new approach to mechanical voids.

The Department of City Planning suggested new protocols for spaces set aside in residences for electrical, heating and cooling systems after community groups claimed developers were stretching buildings past standard heights by including unusually tall floors for mechanical equipment.

AM New York Food insecurity struggles felt by 1 in 8 New Yorkers, according to Hunger Free America by Lisa L. Colangelo

Food insecurity struggles felt by 1 in 8 New Yorkers, according to Hunger Free America

“The report proves there is a giant need in one of the wealthiest cities in the world for food pantries that rely on donations,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos. “New York City should be doing more to fight hunger to protect our kids and our seniors as they are most vulnerable and more likely to face hunger and food insecurity.”    

AM New York Roosevelt Island officials plan ‘art trail’ in an effort to boost tourism and business by Shaye Weaver

Roosevelt Island officials plan ‘art trail’ in an effort to boost tourism and business

“There are so many vacant spaces,” Councilman Ben Kallos said at the unveiling. “Hopefully we can turn those spaces into art spaces, as well. This is just the beginning.”

The island already has its share of public art with six sculptures and a few galleries, including the stunning white marble columns at the FDR Four Freedoms Park, the climbable “Blue Dragon,” Cornell Tech’s WPA murals on its campus, Gallery RIVAA, Motorgate Gallery murals inside the parking garage, among others — all of which will be included on the art trail, officials say.

AM New York How are noise complaints handled in NYC?: NYCurious by Vincent Barone

How are noise complaints handled in NYC?: NYCurious

The joke in New York City is that there are two seasons: winter and construction.

Residents in other cities quip the same, but the idiom rings truest here, where New Yorkers filed more than 446,000 noise-related complaints in 2017, the most common reports coming via 311. Those complaints flag loud construction sites, car and truck horns but even more typically “loud parties” or music.

For New Yorkers woken up to the sounds of jackhammers in the morning, the city’s Noise Codeprotects its residents from such sonic assaults. And, earlier this year, the City Council passed a bill sponsored by Councilman Ben Kallos that aims to limit construction noise—particularly during overnights and weekends

AM New York Upper East Side residents sue over 524-foot-tall development by Sarina Trangle

Upper East Side residents sue over 524-foot-tall development

A new lawsuit has brought a skirmish over a residential skyscraper on the Upper East Side to new heights.

State Sen. Liz Krueger, City Councilman Ben Kallos, and two neighborhood groups are challenging the city’s approval of a residential building with an art gallery, currently under construction at 180 East 88th St.

DDG Partners’ structure is slated to rise 524 feet, when including mechanical equipment.

In a lawsuit recently filed in New York County Supreme Court, the Upper East Side groups claimed DDG Partners created a micro-lot to skirt zoning rules that would have otherwise limited the building’s height to about 300- to 350-feet, according to estimates from Kallos’ office.

AM New York Council Expected to Pass Measure Limiting After-Hours Construction Noise by Sarina Trangle

Council Expected to Pass Measure Limiting After-Hours Construction Noise

A bill empowering the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to quell after-hours construction noise was voted out of a Council committee Monday. Councilman Ben Kallos, who sponsored the measure, expected his colleagues to approve the measure at a scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

“New Yorkers hate getting woken up early or kept up late at night with construction,” Kallos said, noting that noise concerns are the most common complaint logged in the city’s 3-1-1 system. “[The DEP] actually agreed and worked with us on this legislation that makes a huge update to the city’s noise code.”

Kallos noted that the legislation will task the DEP with crafting rules specifying how long inspectors have to respond to complaints about after-hours work and which grievances ought to be prioritized because the noises are expected to continue. A DEP spokesman said the rulemaking process typically takes six months to one year.