New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

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FOX 5 WNYW Confusion, anger as more NYC homeless are shuffled around city by Dan Bowens

Confusion, anger as more NYC homeless are shuffled around city

“These are human beings and they should not be getting tossed around from community to community,” said City Councilmember Ben Kallos.

Mayor de Blasio’s office and the Department of Homeless Services did not return a request for comment, however, the Legal Aid Society says it will not rest until the city builds a culture of transparency with its shelter residents. 

The Legal Aid Society has also threatened to sue the city unless mayor de Blasio meets their demands, including meeting with every family individually to determine their needs, help them relocate, and give them enough notice to leave.

FOX 5 WNYW Ruling on Manhattan skyscraper could affect future development by Fox 5

Ruling on Manhattan skyscraper could affect future development

NEW YORK - After a New York State Supreme Court judge ordered 20 stories or more be removed off the top of the largest residential skyscraper on the Upper West Side, developers fear the ruling could set a dangerous precedent.

"This was a bad ruling—with hundreds of millions of dollars spent, thousands of jobs on the line," said Paiman Lodhi, a senior vice president with the Real Estate Board of New York.

But Eddie Small, a reporter for The Real Deal, said this was a special case.

"It's an extremely unique case on an extremely unique zoning lot," he said. "And this ruling won't necessarily impact very many other big projects in New York City."

Small said the community groups currently have no plans of using their victory as a basis for litigation against other projects. But others are.

Councilman Ben Kallos is seeking to have a 847-foot skyscraper on the Upper East Side cut down by almost half the footage and plans to file a motion based on this case.

FOX 5 WNYW New York City Council holds hearing on façade inspections by Fox 5

New York City Council holds hearing on façade inspections

NEW YORK - Leaders of the New York City Department of Buildings testified before the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Building on Monday in the aftermath of two recent deadly accidents where falling debris off building façades killed two pedestrians walking on the sidewalk. 

Calling the Department of Building’s current inspection system archaic, some city council members are calling on the DOB to begin using drones to inspect buildings.

"I think it could be a huge game-changer," said City Council Member Ben Kallos. 

However, the Department of Buildings is standing by what it calls its “tried and true” inspection system.

During the hearing, DOB Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said that there are currently almost 600 buildings in the city that are considered unsafe, and that the owners have a repair and maintenance plan. 

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FOX 5 WNYW NYC school buses to have GPS tracking by Fox 5

NYC school buses to have GPS tracking

“The DoE has promised to have a GPS on every single school bus in our city so parents will be able to call I and know where the bus is if that bus isn’t there,” said New York City councilman Ben Kallos. 

Kallos suggested the move after a sudden storm last fall stranded some students

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FOX 5 WNYW NYC condo owner allegedly converted small apartment into 11 tiny units by Louis Casiano

NYC condo owner allegedly converted small apartment into 11 tiny units

New York City condominium owner illegally converted his one-unit apartment into a duplex with 11 cramped sub-units, some of which had ceilings just 4 1/2 feet high, forcing his tenants to crouch or walk on their knees, officials alleged.

Inspectors with the city's Buildings Department raided the apartment on Manhattan's Lower East Side Aug. 14 after they got a complaint about the cramped conditions, The New York Post reported. The Henry Street building was listed as having 27 apartments on five floors, according to city records.

Owner Xue Ping Ni reportedly carved up the 634-square-foot unit into 11 units with no windows and an illegal bathroom. He was cited with numerous violations totaling $144,000.

FOX 5 WNYW Legislation seeks to make NYC a bit quieter by Arthur Chi'en

Legislation seeks to make NYC a bit quieter

coming to the rescue is Council Member Ben Kallos, whose bill has just been passed. The bill seeks to turn down the volume during the off hours that construction sites aren't taking off, whether it be on the Upper East Side or across the East River in Queens or back across to Manhattan's West Side where construction seems never-ending.

FOX 5 WNYW New York City pays $969 for a trash can by Linda Schmidt

New York City pays $969 for a trash can

NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - New York City has purchased numerous dome-top garbage cans. Are they worth nearly a thousand dollars each when last year they were about half the price?

Council Member Ben Kallos doesn't think so. Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, has bought the dome garbage cans since 2014 with money that is allocated to every council member from the City Council budget. The expense is part of his discretionary spending, which is money that council members can spend on whatever they feel will improve their district.

He said the trash cans are helping to keep the sidewalks clean so he wanted to buy more. But he discovered the price nearly doubled to $969 each, from $545.

The reason: the city now has a contract with a new company. The city's Department of Citywide Administrative Services handled the bidding process and explained that Kallos.

Kallos told Fox 5 that he is outraged and that the city needs to do a better job in its bidding process.

DCAS issued a statement: "The procurement policy requires a fair and competitive bidding process, and the existing contract we hold reflects the lowest possible price resulting from that process."

The company that charged $545 per trash can told the city it was losing money on each sale so it did not rebid for the new contract.

FOX 5 WNYW Should e-bikes be legal? New York officials split by Kayla Mamelak

Should e-bikes be legal? New York officials split

NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Bike lanes are all over New York City. And yet seeing bikers pedaling wherever they see fit is not uncommon. Many of these bikers are making deliveries.

City Councilman Ben Kallos is working to fix the problem with a bike safety initiative. The group stops by local restaurants and offers delivery people free helmets, safety lessons and more.

But things get more complicated when delivery men and women ride e-bikes. An e-bike looks no different than an average bike, except for a small electric motor attached to the frame. That motor makes the bike illegal.

 

New York's laws on e-bikes are murky. Selling motorized bikes that have a maximum speed of less than 20 mph is legal, but riding them isn't. If your e-bike is confiscated, you can get it back after a having a court hearing and paying a $500 fine.

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The NYPD confiscated 155 e-bikes in 2016 and a whopping 691 so far in 2017. While some lawmakers, like Councilman Kallos, favor the confiscations, others say e-bikes are just as safe as regular bikes. Assemblyman Nick Perry said e-bikes help people who have to pedal a lot during the day, especially low-wage workers who work hard to support their families. He has introduced legislation to legalize e-bikes in New York. The Transportation Committee is reviewing the bill.

Right now, pedal-assist e-bikes are classified as bicycles in New York City, meaning those are legal to use.

Citing safety concerns, the de Blasio administration squashed legislation in 2015 to include other forms of e-bikes.