New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

AM New York

AM New York Pols urge city to make universal after-school programming a reality by ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH

Pols urge city to make universal after-school programming a reality

“Universal access to after school will increase and equalize educational opportunities, keep kids out of the criminal justice system, and make life easier for parents whose jobs keep them at work until at least 5 p.m.,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos, at an oversight hearing on after-school legislation on Tuesday. The Upper East side pol sponsored a bill in 2018 requiring that the city provide free after-school programs to every public school student between the ages of three through 21.

Kallos was joined by other members of the Youth Services committee including Councilmember Treyger who touched on his own after-school legislation proposed in 2018. Treyger’s bill would require annual reports by the Department of Education and DYCD on the demographics of the students at each after-school program including whether the student has special needs or is an English language learner. The report would also require that the agencies note the eligibility criteria for each program and the amount and source for program funding. 

AM New York Homeless who died in 2019 honored at memorial event in Manhattan by Gabe Herman

Homeless who died in 2019 honored at memorial event in Manhattan

The annual event, called Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, was hosted by the nonprofits Care For the Homeless (CFH) and Urban Pathways (UP) at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, at 7 West 55th St.

This year, 153 homeless people were honored, and each name was read aloud as a bell tolled and a candle was lit. Several elected officials spoke, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi and City Council Member Ben Kallos.

A eulogy was also given for the four Chinatown victims who were beaten to death one night in early October. There were six other eulogies given at the event, and 15 people read the names of all those who had died in 2019.

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