New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Queens Chronicle

Queens Chronicle Queens now has 961 sidewalk sheds up by Derrell J. Bouknight

Queens now has 961 sidewalk sheds up

“A lot of the people who own these buildings do not act responsibly and they don’t start repairs before problems start,” McDermott said, citing why many buildings have severe damage.

Nearly two years ago, City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill that would require sheds to be taken down when construction is inactive. Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) has sponsored the bill, which was reintroduced this year after a new section was implemented.

The bill proposes that all unsafe conditions are corrected within 90 days of a critical examination report being filed. A commissioner may grant a 90-day extension upon review of the building’s progress.

“This is a safety issue, by and large,” Holden told the Chronicle. “We aren’t saying remove sidewalks sheds where buildings are unsafe, so there are exemptions of the law. There’s a balance.”

Holden said that he is confident that the bill will pass. Kallos, he said, is thorough in his thoughts and what he wants to see come of the proposal. He also said that he is a proponent of the bill and signed it because Holden himself proposed a bill similar to Kallos’. This one seems to be more active, as Holden said it “would probably pass.”

Queens Chronicle Mayor OKs 9 bills aiming to reform BSA by Ryan Brady

Mayor OKs 9 bills aiming to reform BSA

Variance-seeking developers will be affected by one of the laws, which Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) introduced. In their BSA applications, they will have to demonstrate that the situation is a unique one in the neighborhood. And if they lie on their application, they face a civil penalty of up to $15,000.

Kallos introduced four other bills signed by de Blasio that affect staffing at the BSA and aim to make it more transparent.

One of the former requires the Department of City Planning to appoint a coordinator who testifies in defense of existing zoning rules to the BSA; the testimony will be accessible on the internet. The other mandates that a New York State-certified real estate appraiser be available to consult with or work for the BSA to analyze and review real estate financials that developers provide.

The transparency measures dictate that the locations for all sites for which special permits and variances were approved by the BSA since 1998 be viewable as a layer and list on an interactive New York City map. The second law requires the BSA to biannually report the average length of time it takes to make a decision on an application; the total number of applications; how many were approved and denied and the number of pre-application meeting requests.

Queens Chronicle BSA reform bills before City Council by Ryan Brady

BSA reform bills before City Council

Sick of the Board of Standards and Appeals approving projects contrary to their wishes, members of Queens civic associations are highly supportive of a 10-bill package before the City Council to make the agency more transparent.

A hearing on the bills, some of which were introduced by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) this month and others of which were introduced before, was held on Dec. 14.

Some of the measures that stand out include a bill that would create a $25,000 fine for lying on an application; one that would require the agency to reference arguments made by community and borough boards and the City Planning Commission in its decisions; and another that would mandate the creation of a map showing locations where variances and special permits have been granted.

Queens Chronicle The LatestSouth Ozone Park woman took off with her son, grandson HomeEditionsQueenswide Making sure every voter has a say by Nicholas Theodorou

The LatestSouth Ozone Park woman took off with her son, grandson HomeEditionsQueenswide Making sure every voter has a say

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chairman of the Committee on Governmental Operations, echoed the importance of homeless people being ensured their vote is counted.

“We must ensure that everyone who can vote is voting no matter their housing status,” he said.

Kallos and Wills also worked together on a law that allows those being detained in city jails to vote.

“And with so many people awaiting trial with an overwhelming majority of men of color who shouldn’t be in our system, they need to be protected and they need their rights protected,” Kallos said at the press conference.

Although at the time of the press conference it was too late to register to vote, Matt Borden, of the DHS, wanted to ensure that those who are eligible to cast ballots would be told how to do so.