Press Releases

July 21, 2017

The New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 90 West Street who sued their landlord after their rents were substantially raised, even though their apartments were stabilized through 421(g). In August 2016, Public Advocate James, along with 37 elected officials, filed an amicus brief in support of the tenants who were forced to pay unfair rent increases by their landlord on their rent stabilized apartments. The judge ruled that the tenants will maintain their rent stabilized status and a referee will be appointed to determine damages. 

This is the second lawsuit involving 421(g) that tenants have won this month to protect all units of affordable housing that received the 421(g) tax abatement. On July 3, the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 50 Murray Street who also sued their landlord when rents were substantially raised despite being stabilized through 421(g).

“New York City's housing crisis is harming our City one family at a time,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This case was clear from the beginning: greedy landlords trying to double dip and cheat the system by cashing in on luxury deregulation exclusions while at the same time getting tax breaks for rent controlled units. The law is clear and it must be followed. Thank you to Tish James for being the advocate and attorney for millions of rent regulated New Yorkers who now more than ever need vigorous, committed defenders.”

 

July 20, 2017

Upper East Side- NY Compost On–the-Go, is a new program from GrowNYC’s zero waste initiatives funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation. Compost On–the-Go increases access to food waste composting for New Yorkers in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan.  Conveniently located near transit, drop-off sites are staffed by friendly compost coordinators ready to accept fruit and vegetable scraps as residents head out to start the day. In support of this environmentally savvy program Council Member Ben Kallos  joined a team of GrowNYC volunteers and employees at the 96th Street & Lexington Ave (6 Train) station on Thursday July 20th at 10am. Residents who wish to participate in composting are encouraged to drop off acceptable items every Wednesday from 7:15 am to 10:30am.  DSNY will transport collected scraps to a regional facility to be transformed into compost.  

 

July 19, 2017

New York, NY – Noise is the number one complaint in New York City, but to Council Member Ben Kallos and Environmental Chair Costa Constantinides it doesn’t need to be a fact of life in the Big Apple. Kallos and Constantinides introduced legislation in June to be heard in the fall that would require the city to respond to noise complaints for nightlife and construction within two hours or on a subsequent day within an hour of the time of the complaint. The bill aims to increase the likelihood that inspectors will identify the source of the noise, issue a violation, and restore quiet.
 
“Noise is such a big problem that it might be better to call us ‘Noise’ York City. If 311 is any indication, residents are tired of all the noise, and it is time we did something about it,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “It is hard to imagine a government of the people for the people ignoring the people’s top complaint and expecting them to be happy living here. I am disappointed by recent reports that the city is actually doing less to quiet noise as complaints rise. We as a city need to take this problem seriously, take it head on without excuses, and give every New Yorker the peace and quiet they need.”
 

 

July 5, 2017

New York, NY - Four new active neighborhood leaders join Community Board 8 after being nominated by Council Member Ben Kallos and appointed by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Manhattan's 12 community boards are local organizations each composed of 50 volunteer members serving staggered two-year terms.  Community boards are tasked with being the independent and representative voices of their communities — the most grass-roots form of local government. The boards are pivotal in shaping their communities and work to enhance and preserve the character of the city's many unique neighborhoods. "More than a thousand people applied to be a member of one of Manhattan's 12 community Boards, the most we've ever had," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I'm excited that so many Manhattanites want to be involved, even though that made the job of selecting members tougher than it's ever been. I'm delighted that these four new members are joining CB 8.”
 “We are looking for our city's best and brightest with strong ties to the neighborhood to serve on our community boards. I am proud to nominate a neighborhood association founder, union organizer, parent and resident that will bring expertise in law, labor, public policy research, and finance that Community Board 8 needs to make decisions on land use and other complex issues before the board,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who previously served on Community Board 8. “Thank you to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for an open process that has encouraged hundreds to apply with an impressive group interview process as well as all the applicants and appointees for their service to the community.”

 

June 28, 2017

Councilmember Kallos said, "This is victory for thousands of residents from hundreds of buildings in and out of the neighborhood who have organized a grassroots application that would use height as an incentive to include affordable housing in any new building. Thank you to Community Board 6 for their support every step of the way and unanimously passing this rezoning. Now we look to the Mayor and City Planning to choose affordable housing over buildings for billionaires."

 

June 19, 2017

"After 40 years we are opening indoor tennis to the public this summer. For a $100 annual tennis pass from NYC Parks, you can play tennis on air-conditioned indoor courts all summer long that would normally cost as much as $225 an hour. Now it is up to the public to show such high demand for these courts that we have to expand the program," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Thank you to Commissioner Mitchell Silver and NYC Parks for working with Eastside elected officials to open indoor tennis to the public this summer as we continue our work to expand parks space in the district."

 

 

June 18, 2017

Thank you to New York City Transit for your diligent evaluation of bus service routes, but we must express concern with regards to insufficient public notice and object to service cuts of up to 33% to four bus lines crucial to the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Midtown.

Bus Service Route Recommendations:

  • M31 - Reject increase in PM Peak headway from 8 to 9 minutes (12.5%).
  • M57 - Reject increase in AM Peak headway from 10 to 12 minutes (20%) and Evening headway from 12 to 15 minutes (25%).
  • M66 - Reject increase in AM Peak headway from 4 to 4.5 minutes (12.5%) and PM Peak headway from 3.5 to 4 minutes (14%).
  • M72 - Reject increase in AM Peak headway from 9 to 10 minutes (11%), PM Peak headway from 8 to 9 minutes (12.5%), and Evening headways from 15 to 20 minutes (33%).

 

June 16, 2017

Notice to Residents of Lenox Hill

The Health Department is investigating a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease in a section of Lenox Hill. Seven people have been confirmed with Legionnaires’ disease in the last 11 days. The risk to most people is low, but if you have flu-like symptoms, please see your medical provider.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease (or Legionellosis) is a type of pneumonia. It is caused by bacteria (Legionella) that grow in warm water.

Is the disease contagious?
No. Legionnaires’ disease is not spread from person to person. People only get sick by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria. People who are sick cannot make others sick.

Who is at risk?
Groups at high risk include people who are middle-aged or older—especially cigarette smokers—people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs).

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?
Symptoms are like the flu and can include fever, chills, muscle aches and cough. Some people may also have headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion or diarrhea.

What should I do if I think I have Legionnaires’ disease?
If you have flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention right away, especially if you have a medical condition that affects your breathing, like emphysema, or if you are a smoker.

What is the treatment for Legionnaires’ disease?
The disease is treated with antibiotics. Most people get better with early treatment, although they may need to be hospitalized. Some people may get very sick or even die from complications of the disease. That’s why it is important to get medical help right away if you develop symptoms.

If you would like more information, please join us for a Community Meeting at:
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
331 East 70th Street
Monday, June 19
6:30PM
RSVP

Or, visit nyc.gov/health or call 311

 

June 16, 2017

STATEMENT: Legionnaires’ Disease Cluster on Upper East Side

"Upper East Siders should be looking out for signs of Legionnaires: a cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should quickly seek medical attention," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "In 2015, following the outbreak in the Bronx I co-sponsored legislation introduced by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, which was signed into Local Law 77 of 2015 to require registration, inspection, cleaning, disinfecting, testing, and annual certification. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the individual who passed away. We are working with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to identify the source as quickly as possible."

For more information:
Health Department Investigating Community Cluster of Legionnaires' Disease in Section of Lenox Hill in Manhattan at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/about/press/pr2017/pr051-17.page

 

June 14, 2017

I am Council Member Ben Kallos, representing the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and El Barrio. That’s @BenKallos on Twitter and Instagram.

Good afternoon to the Rent Guidelines Board Chair Hon. Kathleen A. Roberts, Public Members Botein, Joza, Reiss and Schaub, Owner Members Serafy and Walsh, and Tenant Members Epstein and Garcia.

To New Yorkers here today, and especially tenants, thank you for attending this hearing. I am proud to stand with you today.

This year, I am calling on the Rent Guidelines Board to vote for a rent rollback.

Last year, the Board voted for a second-straight historic rent freeze for one-year leases, continuing to correct for the disproportionately high increases of previous years.

Year after year, as rent goes up, tenants have shouldered an undue burden. Meanwhile, income cannot keep pace, and only crept up by 2.3% between 2005 and 2013 in real terms. The approved rent increases each year were largely based upon the landlord’s operating costs, measured by the price index of operating cost (PIOC). This practice not only failed to consider tenants, but was also proven to be inaccurate: based upon data from the Department of Finance (DOF), the PIOC has overstated landlord costs by 11% since 2005. This miscalculation led to unfairly high rent increases in past years, which must be corrected with a rent rollback.

 

June 7, 2017

In response to a doubling in the number of hate crimes in New York City since last year, with anti-transgender incidents cited as a major cause according to the NYPD, City Council Members Ben Kallos and Education Chair Danny Dromm have introduced a pair of bills meant to expand Gender-Sexuality Alliance student clubs in the city’s Public Schools. The legislation was authored by East Side Middle School students who are representatives to the Manhattan Leadership Council.

 

June 7, 2017

Initiative results can help to diversify the largest municipal fleet in the country and its $200 million plus annual investment NEW YORK––The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) today announced a new procurement initiative to help expand vendor participation in the City Fleet’s trucking and specialized equipment procurements. As part of the Agency’s commitment to increase greater market participation in today’s industry, DCAS, through a Request for Information, will expand its outreach to the industry and provide opportunities for qualified, yet lesser known businesses, including minority and women-owned business enterprises.

 

June 6, 2017

"The community has won a major victory with the certification of our rezoning proposal to stop the march of super-scrapers and build more affordable housing in residential neighborhoods. While I am disappointed with how long it took to certify, it is better late than never," said Council Member Ben Kallos.

He added, "Thank you to residents of 45 buildings and over 2,000 individual supporters from the neighborhood who have brought the first of its kind grassroots community rezoning to be certified that I am proud to support. Now the rezoning can go to Community Board 6 for a quick approval since they had sought this rezoning to begin with. Then it’s back to City Planning for what we hope will be a vote in favor of protecting residential neighborhoods from super-scrapers, protecting seniors like Herndon Werth and Charles Fernandez living in rent stabilized housing from displacement for billionaires and to actually building affordable housing in the East 50s.”

 

May 26, 2017

Kallos Promises New Large Cans For Every Corner to Clean Up the Upper East Side

New York, NY – Litter strewn sidewalks on the Upper East Side are about to get cleaner following an investment of $154,780 by Council Member Ben Kallos in 284 new large trash cans personally delivered by Sanitation Department Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. The new large trash cans are housed in a green metal case with a dome top and a small opening that prevents trash from spilling and has been reported to deter rodents.

“I am here to clean up the Upper East Side with larger trash cans on every corner that can prevent overflow and litter that spills onto the streets,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I promise a new large trash can on every corner that needs one to keep our streets clean. I encourage any resident whose corner needs a new trash can or even a second large trash can to reach out so we can clean up our neighborhood together.” 

This massive rollout followed an initial pilot that brought 38 large trash cans to hot spots with 27 large trash cans just for the East 86th Street commercial corridor. Council Member Kallos sought out to cover Second Avenue from 96th to 54th street to coincide with the opening of the Second Avenue Subway in 2017. Following the 2016 pilot resident reported reduced litter and rodents with requests for more cans from the East Sixties Neighborhood Association (ESNA), the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association (E72NA), and the East 86th Street Association (E86NA). In response Council Member Kallos expanded from his original plan of covering Second Avenue to cover every corner that had a wire mesh trash can, providing 284 new large cans that cover 104 intersections in his district. 

 

May 24, 2017

City Hall – Today, the New York City Council passed a package of legislation aimed at reforming the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). In the past developers have been able to circumvent city zoning laws restricting building forms, use, height, density, through the BSA even though local Community Boards and elected officials objected to their decisions. This legislation aims to reform applications, decisions, notifications, staffing and transparency around the BSA to be more accountable to the public. The BSA is a five-member body tasked with reviewing requests for variances and special permits related to affordable housing and city planning in the zoning law. The package includes nine bills and featured bipartisan support from sponsors including Governmental Operations Chair Ben Kallos, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Minority Leader Steven Matteo and Council Members Karen Koslowitz (D-29) and Donovan Richards (D-31).

 

May 24, 2017

New York, NY – In spite of policies and funding to provide public school students with access to dental, vision, substance abuse, reproductive health vaccines, and contraception in their public schools' actual performance goes unmeasured with some services provided onsite, others offsite, and others not at all.
 
“The city has policies in place to provide every health service they need and expect parents to be satisfied knowing they exist. I am concerned that the city is giving parents a false sense of security when the truth is that we don’t know which public school students have access to which services,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We should know exactly which health services are available to which public schools so that we can ensure all 1.1 million public school students have access to the health services they need.”
 
Under legislation proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos for each healthcare area the Department of Education would have to report on the service offered, the location of services as onsite or offsite, cost of services to students, and the number of participants receiving services at each public school. The Department of Education would also have to set annual strategies to increase access, special initiatives, pilot schools, comparison of pilot schools to standard schools and compare year to year performance.

 

May 24, 2017

Commutes are getting better on the Upper East Side. The lines that extended half a block on East 79th Street at York and First Avenues are a thing of the past. Waiting five minutes or more just for people to pay and board is no more.

 

May 21, 2017

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) NYC Transit and New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) together today began service on a new Select Bus Service (SBS) route along 79th Street in Manhattan. This busy 2-mile crosstown corridor links Manhattan’s Upper East Side to the Upper West Side and serves over 14,000 riders daily.   The M79 is the 13th Select Bus Service route Citywide and the 7th in Manhattan.  Using SBS’s signature combination of dedicated bus lanes, curbside fare collection, all-door boarding and transit-signal priority, the new line is expected to both reduce travel times and increase reliability.

 

May 11, 2017

79 New Buses Headed to East Side to Replace Oldest Buses in Fleet
M14, M15, M101, M102, & M103 

New York, NY – Manhattan’s East Side, where seniors and others depend on buses with slow service and long waits, is getting 79 new buses to help alleviate these issues. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA’s announcement of the new buses followed strong, data-driven advocacy from Council Member Ben Kallos, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and the East 79th Street Neighborhood.
 
The community and elected officials brought the issue of “missing buses” to the attention of then-MTA Bus Company President Darryl Irick at a meeting convened by Senator Liz Krueger. The MTA shared that bus lines based out of the Tuskegee Depot were amongst the oldest in the system, leading to more frequent than usual breakdowns, and agreed to prioritize these buses for replacement.
 
The MTA is now bringing 79 new buses with free Wi-Fi and USB charging to the Tuskegee Depot, which will provide 3 to 5 new buses per week to the M14, M15, M101, M102, and M103 lines.
 
The East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, led by Betty Cooper-Wallerstein, has been fighting for improved bus service for decades, from awarding bus operators for a job well done to distributing survey cards for residents to provide feedback on their experiences with the buses. This advocacy has ensured that quality bus service remains a top priority for elected officials who receive these cards with service complaints.
 
In 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos presented at Beta NYC's National Day of Civic Hacking event and facilitated a conversation on using MTA BusTime data to track every bus in the system at all times in order to analyze bus service. Nathan Johnson took up this challenge. In his analysis, he found “missing buses,” where fewer buses ran per hour than were scheduled.
 
In discussions facilitated by TWU Local 100 with bus operators from the Tuskegee Bus Depot, they identified frequent breakdowns and insufficient buses as two primary causes of “missing buses.” Council Member Kallos identified these issues in multiple letters and meetings with the MTA, BetaNYC, and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).
 
Further analysis by the Bus Turnaround Coalition at BusTurnaround.nyc found:

  • M15: has the highest ridership in Manhattan at 46,029 daily riders, with more than 1 of 8 buses arriving bunched and an average speed of only 4.8 mph.
  • M101: is one of the top ten most bunched buses in the city at 1 of 6 buses arriving bunched, with the fourth highest ridership in Manhattan at 26,127 riders per day, and an average speed of only 4.9 mph.

 

May 10, 2017

GovAPI Act Would Provide Interface for Digital Requests and Submission for All Government Information As Proposed by City Council Member Kallos  New York, NY – Long lines, hold music and bureaucratic forms could soon be replaced by an app for that as the private sector innovates government thanks to new legislation (Int.1594) introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos that would require that all information received or transmitted by city government to be available through an Application Program Interface (API).
 
“Government, there should be an app for that. We need to build an API for government, so that the private sector can innovate and bring government into the 21st century. New Yorkers should be able to use government services as simply as new apps deliver food or a car when you need one,” said New York City Council Member Ben Kallos a free and open source software developer.
 
Any time a paper form, an operator, or website requests information like a name, email, income, or other details that information could just as easily be provided by an app through an API. Similarly, anytime the city shares information on whether you qualified for public benefits, are registered to vote, or owe taxes that could just as easily be provided by an app through an API. An Application Programming Interface or API provides a set of definitions, protocols, and tools for building application software, or in general terms, it provides a translation dictionary for different software to communicate to make it easier for developers to program new applications.

 

 

May 8, 2017

Since taking office I have been fighting to keep the East River Esplanade from falling into the river. As Co-chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce with Congress Member Maloney, I have secured $49 million in private and public dollars to maintain and rehabilitate a crumbling Esplanade. A portion of the $35 million in funding that I secured in partnership with the Mayor was already being used to shore up the portion of the Esplanade that fell into the river behind Gracie Mansion with work to begin this Summer. I am disappointed that despite having the funding and identifying this portion of the Esplanade, that work did not begin in time to prevent the collapse.

Earlier this year and last week I advocated for $169 million dollars from the City’s budget to rehabilitate the Esplanade. The City Council’s budget response also prioritized the $169 million necessary to keep the East River Esplanade from falling into the river from 60th to 125th Street. I welcome the $100 million in funding from Mayor de Balsio to connect the East River Esplanade from 53rd to 61st Street but stress the importance of supporting existing infrastructure and budgeting for new infrastructure to be created so that this never happens again.

 

 

May 4, 2017

“Getting equal pay for equal work should not be an issue New York City residents are still battling in 2017,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos. “What someone earned at a previous job should have no bearing on salary negotiations with a potential employer. Introduction 1253 will help close the wage gap between women and men as well as minorities and whites. Thank you to Public Advocate James for her leadership on this issue that is so central to making our City more equitable. Thank you also to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito for supporting this groundbreaking legislation.” 

 

May 2, 2017

New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and transportation advocates today announced that an array of transit improvements over the last year have transformed the Upper East Side from a so-called “transit desert” into a “Transit Garden.”   They stood together at a new Q station stop at 2nd Avenue and 86th Street, celebrating the numerous transit, traffic, and safety improvements that now complement the new Second Avenue Subway -- including faster MTA Select Bus Service (SBS), a new Second Avenue protected bike lane and Citi Bike.   The Commissioner also released a progress report on the success of the M86 SBS route, while noting TLC data showing a 32 percent decrease in taxi trips from the Upper East Side to Midtown since Q train service began.  She also noted that starting next year, the Upper East Side would be serviced by the new NYC Ferry.

 

May 1, 2017

New York, NY - Four-year-olds and their parents rallied alongside elected officials at St Catherine’s Park on the Upper East Side to demand that the Department of Education to fulfill its duty to the Community and provide a Universal Pre-K seat for the over almost 300 four-year-old’s who were not offered seats in the neighborhood.
 
In 2014 WNYC  reported that 2,767 four-year-olds only had 151 pre-kindergarten seats. Since taking office Council Member Kallos has worked with community leaders and organization, providers and the Department of Education to bring hundreds of seats to his district and joined with Council Member Garodnick to bring dozens to the Upper East Side, quadrupling the number of seats for the 2016-17 school year to 618.
 
This year, the Upper East Side lost seats, while applications increased leaving over 900 four-year-olds with only 596 seats on the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, and Midtown East. Children have been assigned to schools not even list as choices by parents as far away as the financial district.
 
On April 17, Council Member Kallos authored a letter with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Assembly Member Dan Quart and Council Member Dan Garodnick, to the Department of Education demanding seats for every four-year-old in the neighborhood.
 
Now the elected officials join with four-year-olds, parents, to demand a pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds on the Upper East Side in their neighborhood.
 
 

 

April 25, 2017

Pensions for All to Help New Yorkers Save for Retirement Introduced by Public Advocate James and Council Member Kallos

President Trump Called Upon to Veto Congressional Resolution That Would
Block States from Providing Retirement Accounts to Residents 

New York City – Following the passage of House Joint Resolutions 66 and 67 by Rep. Walberg (R-MI) and Rep. Rooney (R-FL) on March 30, 2017, to roll back regulations   permitting States and Municipalities to offer retirement savings plans, Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Ben Kallos are introducing legislation (Intro:1574 and Intro:1580), Saving Access New York, that would allow every private sector worker in New York City to save pre-tax for retirement even if their employer did not offer a 401K. On April 13, President Trump signed H.J. Resolution 67 pertaining to municipalities into law. Public Advocate James and Council Member Kallos are now calling on President Trump to veto the remaining Congressional legislation and empower Americans throughout this nation to take personal responsibility to save for their retirements.