New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Curbed

Curbed Opponents of Amazon’s ‘unconscionable’ HQ2 deal rally in Queens by Dave Colon

Opponents of Amazon’s ‘unconscionable’ HQ2 deal rally in Queens

Numerous speakers also blasted the inclusion of a helipad in the construction of the campus, which was held up as a totem of what they saw as Bezos’ elite attitude, refusal to ride the subway, or spend a second longer in Queens than he might have to. City Council Member Ben Kallos of the Upper East Side went as far as comparing Bezos to a Bond villain.

Kallos was also the only speaker of the bunch to bring up a letter that he and many other lawmakers (including rally leader Van Bramer and Queens state Senator Mike Gianaris) signed last year asking Amazon to explore moving to New York City, an awkward juxtaposition with the day’s anti-Amazon sentiment. “A lot of us did sign a letter saying we wanted to have a conversation with Amazon, and I’ll be the first to say talking to tech companies is a good thing,” Kallos explained. “But we didn’t sign on the dotted line that we were signing away our tax dollars. They’re taking $3 billion out of your pockets and none of us get a say in that.

Curbed One of NYC’s oldest sidewalk sheds is finally taken down by Ameena Walker

One of NYC’s oldest sidewalk sheds is finally taken down

The sidewalk shed was one of nearly 8,000 around the city and was one of the city’s oldest. It was scaffolding like these that prompted City Councilman Ben Kallos to introduce a bill last November that aimed to require scaffolding to be taken down within six months of it having gone up. Kallos argued that some property owners opt to keep the sheds in place for extended periods of time to put off making costly facade repairs. In 2016, the Department of Buildings (DOB) found that the city was home to nearly 2,000 “dormant sheds” where repair work wasn’t being carried out on building facades that posed safety hazards. Even the DOB headquarters at 280 Broadway in Manhattan has had a sidewalk shed around it since 2008.

Curbed City clashes with community over Upper East Side playground’s future by Tanay Warekar

City clashes with community over Upper East Side playground’s future

“From every indication, jointly operated parks are treated like parkland,” said City Council member Ben Kallos, who represents East Harlem, and the Upper East Side, among other neighborhoods. “In fact, the Marx Brothers Playground went through New York State authorization as if it was, in fact, parkland. Seems like everyone involved, including the City and State, believe this playground was, in fact, a park. Government must eliminate the baseless distinctions between parks in order to protect our playgrounds and green spaces from overdevelopment,”

Curbed NYC takes aim at plastic with bills banning bags, bottles by Ameena Walker

NYC takes aim at plastic with bills banning bags, bottles

The bill must pass through the State Assembly and the Senate before it can move forward. Per the Times, the Assembly has been “generally supportive of a ban but not a fee,” however, the Senate has not weighed in yet on the proposal.

Last week, New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr., and Councilman Ben Kallos announced plans of their own to introduce a bill that would ban the sale of disposable plastic bottles at the city’s parks, beaches, and golf courses, reports the New York Times. The proposed ban hopes to encourage more people to rely on refillable bottles, and while sales of beverages in plastic bottles would be prohibited, park visitors would still be allowed to bring in their own plastic bottles.

“New Yorkers love convenience, especially because we are always running from one place to another, but this will make us pause and realize the impact that our actions are having on our environment,” said Espinal in a statement to the Times.

Curbed DDG’s Upper East Side tower gets hit with yet another lawsuit by Ameena Walker

DDG’s Upper East Side tower gets hit with yet another lawsuit

“The loophole being abused here is just an example of what residents have endured from overdevelopment in our city,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who is one of the parties of the suit.

In summer 2016, developers were hit with a stop-work order from the DOB over a four-foot lot that DDG carved out on the property in order to allow for a taller building. After the stop-work order, DDG increased the lot’s size and the DOB allowed construction to resume. However, community members continued to express opposition and proceeded with their third appeal at the time.

Curbed City Enacts Steeper Fines for Landlords Violating Privately Owned Public Space Rules by Emily Nonko

City Enacts Steeper Fines for Landlords Violating Privately Owned Public Space Rules

One such violator is Donald Trump, who helped bring attention to the issue in 2015 after a black marble bench vanished from the pedestrian atrium of Trump Tower and was replaced with an unapproved sales counter. It has since reappeared, but the Trump Organization was still fined $10,000. In response to the bench drama, three new bills to protect POPS were introduced in the City Council this year, sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick.

Other legislation from Council Members Kallos and Garodnick requires additional signage in all POPS detailing amenities and hours of operation, as well as a website for the public to find more information or to register complaints.

Curbed Sutton Place rezoning Could Move Forward, Along with Contested 800-foot Tower by Tanay Warekar

Sutton Place rezoning Could Move Forward, Along with Contested 800-foot Tower

The neighborhood rezoning already has the backing of several elected officials, most notably City Council member Ben Kallos, who represents the area. He has vowed to remove the City Planning-proposed clause when the project comes before the Council next month, so this tussle is far from over.

Curbed De Blasio’s Proposed Millionaires Tax Backed By More Than Half of City Council by Zoe Rosenberg

De Blasio’s Proposed Millionaires Tax Backed By More Than Half of City Council

The 27 City Council members who have announced their support for the project by way of a letter to the MTA board and its chairman, Joe Lhota, include Jimmy Van Bramer, Margaret Chin, Laurie Cumbo, Rafael Espinal, Ben Kallos, Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, and Jumaane Williams.

Curbed Sutton Place residents make their case for stymying skyscrapers at City Planning by Tanay Warerkar

Sutton Place residents make their case for stymying skyscrapers at City Planning

Previously the rezoning wanted to curtail the height of buildings in this area to 260 feet, but after City Planning raised concerns about that rezoning, the Alliance altered its rezoning proposal.

This latest effort has the backing of several local elected officials including City Council member Ben Kallos. In order for Gamma to move forward with its current plan for the tower, it will have to complete construction on the foundation by Thanksgiving. That’s basically impossible, Kalikow told AM New York.

Curbed Could height limits on NYC skyscrapers be in the city’s future? by AMY PLITT

Could height limits on NYC skyscrapers be in the city’s future?

Not at all coincidentally, Gamma Real Estate is in the process of building what could become a 700-foot skyscraper at 3 Sutton Place. The proposed development, which has been in the works for some time now (first as a 900-foot tower developed by Baohaus Group, then in its current form), has raised the hackles of community members and elected officials alike. Just last week, Manhattan Community Board 6 gave its approval to the rezoning resolution, and city officials like borough president Gale Brewer and City Council member Ben Kallos have voiced their support.

And according to the Wall Street Journal, the Municipal Art Society is also coming out in favor of building height caps. The society’s president, Elizabeth Goldstein, told the Journal that the ERFA is doing “something which is really unusual and kind of amazing.” MAS, you’ll recall, has pushed for more oversight of as-of-right development before, and has been one of the loudest voices against the “accidental skyline” created by Central Park’s supertall boom.