Updates

Press Release
Thursday, December 7, 2017

Geographic Diversity Tracking Bill Passes Vote in Education Committee
 Legislation Aims to Measure Diversity in NYC Public Schools
  New York, NY – Today the City Council’s Education Committee passed legislation that would measure the number of children from each neighborhood who apply to attend a particular school, the number of seats available at each school, how many offers of admission were made, and total enrollment in all public schools. The bill introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos will also require the Department of Education (DOE) to issue reports on the number of individuals who applied for, received offers for, and enrolled in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, sixth and ninth grade in DOE schools. 

The reporting required under the legislation will show the current geographic diversity in NYC schools, whether there are sufficient numbers of school seats in each neighborhood, and how many children are being turned away from the public school system because the City lacks the capacity to allow children to attend school in the neighborhood in which they live. The information would be reported by community school district and by individual school. The information would be disaggregated by grade level, community school district of residence of individuals, primary home language of individuals, and zip code of individuals.

“The fact is we need more school seats and we need more transparency from the Department of Education. We have a growing city and the more useful data we can get the better our children will be served,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “The Mayor’s promise of ‘Pre-Kindergarten for All’ must include enough seats in every neighborhood, including the Upper East Side. Parents in my district are giving up on our public schools and with it our government and parents who can’t afford private school are being forced out."
According to records obtained by Council Member Kallos in 2015, 54% of would-be pre-kindergarteners on the Upper East Side were not offered school seats in their zip codes. For the 2017-2018 school year, more than 900 four-year-olds applied for a total of 596 seats available for this school year. A decrease of 22 seats from the previous school year. This means that at least one in three four-year-olds will not be offered a seat in their neighborhood.

In 2016, in School District 2, which spans from the Financial District to the Upper East Side, 1,696 preschoolers took the Gifted and Talented exam, 838 of whom were deemed eligible for the program, and 652 applied. However, according to Department of Education, only 346 received offers, leaving 47% of applicants, a total of 306 preschoolers, without access to the coveted program.

The aforementioned data for these two programs indicates a larger problem which extends to general enrollment. This legislation seeks the data from the DOE needed to enact changes in order to give the City Council the ability to do so.  

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Press Coverage
REAL ESTATE WEEKLY
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gamma Real Estate will challenge the decision in front of the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, or BSA, a process Kalikow said he believes will be “very objective, very black and white” because of how much progress was made on the site prior to the zoning change.

If the BSA does not grant the appeal, the developer has already taken steps for a potential lawsuit, Kalikow said, including sending a letter to Councilman Ben Kallos, telling him not to delete any emails related to the case.

Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, has championed the re-zoning effort at city hall since a group of his constituents raised the issue in 2015. He said had the proposed change not been stuck in the preapproval stage for more than a year, it would have passed through the council well before construction began on the site.

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Press Coverage
CBS New York
Monday, December 4, 2017

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Construction on upscale condominiumshas been stopped in its tracks on Manhattan’s east side.

New zoning rules now say the controversial tower is too tall.

It’s known as Sutton 58 — the site of a 62-story condo building under construction.

Last Thursday, a City Council vote to limit the construction of tall towers on side streets in the area, led to a stop-work order.

“New Yorkers are sick and tired of out-of-control, out-of-scale overdevelopment, and for so very long, no one would stand up for real estate,” City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th) said.

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Press Coverage
Crain's New York

Last week City Councilman Ben Kallos shepherded through his chamber a 10-block rezoning of the Sutton Place area that will result in shorter and squatter buildings than are currently allowed. He said they would fit in with the varied character of the tony enclave without sacrificing too much of the square footage that could be built in the future. While that sounds like a reasonable proposal, his motivation was far different. Kallos and a group of residents known as the East River Fifties Alliance wanted to zone out of existence a luxury condo tower being built along East 58th Street. To do so, they pushed the limits of the city's land-use rules in the same way that developers are often criticized for doing.

So blatant was their gambit that the City Planning Commission put a clause in the rezoning to protect the 800-foot project. But Kallos removed it and then fast-tracked his legislation's approval to ensure the developer, Gamma Real Estate, could not complete a foundation in time to squeak in under the old zoning rules.

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Press Coverage
Ed Scoop
Monday, December 4, 2017

“Access to reliable, high-speed internet is no longer a luxury. In 2017, it is a necessity,” said Ben Kallos, member of the New York City Council. “Whether you are a small business competing for customers or a high school student doing homework, access to broadband could make the difference between landing a big contract or not, or getting an A on a research paper. I applaud this administration's efforts as New York City works toward universal broadband access."

 
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Newsletter
Dear Neighbor,

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, I remain most thankful for your support. With a new low in voter turnout I was able to pass legislation I authored to provide Online Voter Registration through the City Council to make it easier to register and vote.

On the last day of November the City Council voted to rezone the East Fifties and stop the march of super-tall buildings for billionaires from 57th Street into the Sutton Area. Within minutes of the vote and our rezoning becoming law, an order was issued and all work was stopped at one of the potential sites in the district for a super-tall building for billionaires at 58 Sutton.  This was the culmination of a three year first of its kind grass-roots community rezoning. After years of out-of-control out-of-scale over-development I wanted to put residents over real estate, and we did.

With construction all around us, we are fighting to keep it safe, passing the Crane Modernization Act and continuing our advocacy to get unnecessary scaffolding down especially following a recent collapse injuring six.

We are fighting for more public spaces with the opening of Andrew Haswell Green Park Phase 2A at 60th Street on the Esplanade, passing new laws requiring building owners to open public plazas with signage detailing required amenities with steep fines for non-compliance, and working with Spence to share their new Field House during school hours with public schools that have no regulation physical education space like P.S. 151 and P.S. 527.

Our bike safety program has found new partners, brought 10% of all e-bike enforcement to our neighborhood, and continued to deliver results.

I hope to see you on Tuesday, December 5 at 5PM, for our annual office holiday party, and again on Thursday, December 7 at 8pm (note the time change), where you can ask Mayor Bill de Blasio questions at his Town Hall for the Upper East Side.

Regards,
Ben Kallos
Council Member

P.S. Happy holidays and have a happy New Year! If you’d like to pick up free Menorahs, you can do so at my office (donated by Chabad YP).

SPECIAL EVENTS

12/7, 8PM - 10PM
Mayoral Town Hall

1/7, 1PM-3PM
State of the District


DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

12/1, 8AM-10AM
First Friday

12/5, 5PM – 7PM
Holiday Party

12/12, 6PM-7PM
Brainstorming with Ben

 

HEADLINES

  1. Victory on Sutton Area Rezoning at City Council (Without Grandfather Clause)
  2. Scaffolding Collapse Renews Outcry for Bill to Get Them Down
  3. More Public Spaces to Be Opened to Public Under New Bill Passed by Council
  4. Online Voter Registration is Passed By the Council

EDUCATION

  1. New Gym Space For Public Schools Students from Spence

PARKS & ENVIRONMENT

  1. Andrew Haswell Green Park Ribbon Cutting
  2. Banning Pesticides in Parks Gains Support
  3. Save the Sound

TRANSPORTATION

  1. Bike Safety Program Gets Results
  2. Straphangers Campaign Recognized for 40 Years of Service
  3. Ben in Your Building Discussing Ed Koch Bridge On-Ramp

JOBS & ECONOMY

  1. Crane Safety Legisaltion Passes
  2. The Fight Against Hunger With Brian Lehrer
  3. API Access Available to the Public on City Council Website
  4. Open Camps
  5. Kicking Off Anime NYC Inaugural Weekend
  6. Protesting the DNAInfo and Gothamist Shutdown
  7. Phipps Neighborhood Building Service Worker Protest

COMMUNITY

  1. Fourth Annual Turkey Giveaway
  2. Roosevelt Island Community Coalition Awards
  3. East Side Taskforce on Homeless Outreach and Services Prompts Partnerships

OFFICE UPDATES

  1. Legislative Corner
  2. Free Legal Clinics
  3. Here to Help
  4. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS

  1. City Council Events
  2. Community Board Meetings
  3. New York City Police Department
  4. Community Events For Adults
  5. Community Events For Children
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Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Sunday, December 3, 2017

Mr. Kalikow put much of the blame for the shutdown on the local councilman, Ben Kallos, a Democrat. Mr. Kallos signed the application for the zoning change, along with the East River 50s Alliance, and pressed officials to expedite it.

Mr. Kallos’s support was crucial in the council as other members followed his lead on the issue, a courtesy usually extended on local land-use issues.

“I take full credit for it,” Mr. Kallos said, after hearing of Mr. Kalikow’s complaints. He said the developer is welcome to pursue his rights under the law, but that eventually he might find there already are too many super-tall buildings “intended for billionaires.”

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Friday, December 1, 2017

The cobblestone-paved road has been a a vital open space in the neighborhood for nearly four decades, City Councilman Ben Kallos said Friday.

"When I got elected four years ago I promised I would protect as much open space as possible," Kallos said Friday. "Everyone here on the Upper East Side knows that we don't have enough open space and we rank among the last in the city for open space." Kallos said Friday.

 

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Press Release
Friday, December 1, 2017

James Cagney Place Officially Designated a City Plaza

After 42 Years, Closed Section of East 91st Street Becomes Official Plaza

New York, NY,– Residents at James Cagney Place today, welcomed the news that a section of East 91st Street that has been closed to vehicular traffic for more than 40 years -- and renamed James Cagney Place in 1989 -- was officially recognized as a Pedestrian Plaza under the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT)  NYC Plaza program Round 10. The award notice came after three years of effort by Community Board 8 Members Rita Popper and Dave Rosenstein, with support from Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and in partnership with sponsor Ruppert-Yorkville (R-Y) Management, which helped form Friends of James Cagney Place LLC.

In 2017, the Friends of James Cagney Place organized free events including a jazz festival, movie night, Halloween Parade, and the tree lighting to build community support and demonstrate the import of a protected plaza as a community resource. These events are in addition to daily use by residents walking their dogs, seniors enjoying passive recreation, and children sledding on this section of Carnegie Hill when it snows.

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Newsletter

Yesterday, the New York City Council voted to rezone the East Fifties and stop the march of super-tall buildings for billionaires from 57th Street into the Sutton Area. Within minutes of the vote and our rezoning becoming law, an order was issued and all work was stopped at one of the potential sites in the district for a super-tall building for billionaires at 58 Sutton.

This was the culmination of a three year first of its kind grass-roots community rezoning. After years of out-of-control out-of-scale over-development I wanted to put residents over real estate, and we did.

In 2015, we founded the East River Fifties Alliance, which has grown to 45 buildings in the area, and 2,600 individuals from 500 buildings all over the city with support from Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, CIVITAS, and citywide organizations like the Municipal Arts Society. Council Member Dan Garodnick, Senator Liz Krueger, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer joined me as co-applicants, and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney joined in support.
 
This happened thanks to the support of residents like you. Heroes like Herndon Werth and Charles Fernandez stood up to buyouts and threats from billionaires. Leaders like Dieter Seelig, former President of the Sutton Area Community got us started and Alan Kersh, Robert Shepler, Jessica Osborn, and Lisa Mercurio put countless volunteer hours into ERFA.
 
We did something no one thought could be done. They kept saying we would never rezone before they finished their foundation. We did just that yesterday and the work stopped just before they could finish their foundation or any other potential site in the neighborhood.
 
The rezoning removed the grandfather clause and will protect the Sutton Area East of First Avenue from 52nd to 59th st from supertall towers by limiting zoning lot mergers, limiting the width of towers, and forcing most of the air rights to be used in the base of a building.
 
The new developer had previously made thinly veiled threats to retaliate with inspiration from “The Count of Monte Cristo” and has promised to appeal, but we will continue to fight for you and to protect our community.
 
If you haven’t already, please share your support on our petition at BenKallos.com/petition/StopSuperScrapers
 
Please also consider financially supporting the East River Fifties Alliance at ERFA.nyc/donate

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Thursday, November 30, 2017

City Councilman Ben Kallos hailed Thursday's City Council vote as a win for residents over billionaire developers.

"Today, the City Council voted to stop the march of supertall buildings from commercial districts on 57th Street into residential districts, where they would displace rent-regulated residents to build buildings for billionaires," Kallos said in a statement.

Since the East River Fifties Alliance's creation in 2015, the group has grown to include 45 Sutton Place buildings and 2,600 people from 500 buildings citywide, Kallos said.

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Press Release
Thursday, November 30, 2017

New Yorkers are tired of out-of-control, out-of-scale development destroying affordable housing and the shape of our residential neighborhoods.

Today, the City Council voted to stop the march of supertall buildings from commercial districts on 57th Street into residential districts, where they would displace rent-regulated residents to build buildings for billionaires.

In 2015, we formed the East River Fifties Alliance which has grown to 45 buildings in the area, and 2,600 individuals from 500 buildings all over the city with support from Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District, CIVITAS, and citywide organizations like the Municipal Arts Society.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, Senator Liz Krueger, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer joined me as co-applicants and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney has joined in support.

We worked with the Department of City Planning on several options for providing affordable housing as part of our proposal. DCP ultimately advised that with the change to a Tower on a Base, the best way to produce affordable housing was through the existing inclusionary housing framework, which is what we approved today. DCP has also agreed to improve the inclusionary housing program citywide.

We removed a grandfathering provision that the City Planning Commission had added inappropriately and City Planning has voted that removing this provision was “in scope.”

This rezoning will protect octogenarians like Herndon Werth and seniors like Charles Fernandez and his sister who faced displacement from their affordable, rent-regulated units.

The vote today is in support of residents over luxury real estate developers, putting affordable housing for real New Yorkers over buildings for billionaires.

                                                                      ###

 

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Press Release
Thursday, November 30, 2017

Completing a five-year effort by city government to improve safety operations for construction cranes, the City Council today passed the Crane Modernization Act Int. 443-A, which requires the City of New York and developers to remove older cranes from operation by limiting how long they can be in service to 25 years.

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

In addition to serving the Spence School’s athletics programs, the new facility would provide gym space for physical education classes from P.S. 151 and P.S. 527 under the terms of a proposed, but yet-to-be-finalized agreement between the schools. The two schools are each located near the proposed site of the new Spence facility and have limited space for physical activities. Students at P.S. 151, located at 421 East 88th St., use two converted classrooms for recreational space, while those at P.S. 527, located at 323 East 91st St., use an auditorium with a sloped floor and low ceiling, said City Council Member Ben Kallos, who described the gym-sharing proposal last week at a public hearing on the project at the Board of Standards and Appeals.

According to Kallos, by the time the new building opens for the 2019-2020 school year, Spence and the Department of Education will enter into an agreement allowing the public schools to use the Spence gymnasium for physical education classes during school hours, at no cost to the schools.

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Press Coverage
Next City
Monday, November 27, 2017

Meanwhile, legislation that passed the New York City Council earlier this month aims to hold local landlords accountable for their POPS. The rules — part of a package authored by Council Member Ben Kallos — would require additional signage in all POPS areas detailing amenities and hours of operation, and include a website address where visitors could find out more information and register complaints. Landlords who don’t comply could face fines of between $4,000 and $10,000.

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Press Coverage
PIX11
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The DOB statement also puts it in accord with new legislation. Last week, City Councilmembers Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick sponsored bills that increase fines for POPS violations and require landlords and developers to post signs that clearly explain what POPS amenities are available in buildings that have them.

The bills passed in City Council, and are expected to be signed in to law by Mayor Bill De Blasio before the end of the year.

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Press Release
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I am pleased that the Spence School, the principals of P.S. 151 and P.S. 527, and the Department of Education have agreed in principal to the common goal of opening a state of the art recreational facility to our local public-school students, and to the stated timeline for doing so.

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Press Coverage
CBSN
Sunday, November 19, 2017

"Scaffolding that is meant to protect residents should not be up long enough that it needs to be inspected over and over again year after year," City Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat representing the Upper East Side, said in a statement.

"We can do a better job at keeping New Yorkers safe, by making sure building repairs are done as soon as possible and scaffolding are up for no longer than they have to be."

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Press Coverage
PIX11
Monday, November 20, 2017

MANHATTAN — Before Sunday morning’s scaffolding collapse in SoHo, City Councilman Ben Kallos called for changes to the city’s scaffolding regulations.

“I don’t want to say the sky is falling, but literally, the scaffolding is now falling,” Councilman Kallos said in an interview with PIX11 News.

“I introduced legislation in the City Council that anytime you put up scaffolding, you have seven days to start the work, get the work done within 3-6 months, and then get the scaffolding down, otherwise the city steps in.”

Kallos says the legislation he introduced has been debated amongst City councilmembrs and now he’s in negotiations with the Mayor’s office to push for final approval.

“Every New Yorker is tired of scaffolding. It’s one of the top issues that people just hate about the city,” Kallos said.

Real estate industry executives say it's not cost effective to erect scaffolding, then take it down all while they continue to develop a property.

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Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Monday, November 20, 2017

Last week, the City Planning Commission approved a controversial rezoning of 10 blocks in Sutton Place but included a clause that would exempt Gamma’s project from the change. Local Council member Ben Kallos, who is a co-sponsor of the rezoning application, is pushing to have the grandfather clause removed before the full council votes on the measure. The rezoning will impose “tower on a base” standards in the area, which means that 45 to 50 percent of a building would need to be built below 150 feet.

Kallos said the grandfather clause might be a “red herring” for extending the rezoning process for another two weeks or so. A change to the application, like removing the clause, would send the measure back to City Planning for review, giving Gamma more time to complete the foundation.

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Press Coverage
NBC News 4 New York
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

City Council Member Ben Kallos said the city should do a better job of making sure scaffolding is taken down in a timely matter.

"Although it is still unclear what exactly caused today’s dangerous incident, we do know that if the structure were not there it would not have collapsed and injured pedestrians," he said in a statement.

 

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Press Coverage
ABC7
Sunday, November 19, 2017

SOHO, Manhattan (WABC) --

Six people were hurt after scaffolding collapsed into the street in Lower Manhattan Sunday morning.

The incident happened just after 11:30 a.m. near the intersection of Broadway and Prince in SoHo.

Pictures from the scene show wooden planks all over the street, and FDNY firefighters at the scene.

FDNY officials said "we're absolutely lucky" there aren't more injured in this busy neighborhood. There is a subway stop right at the intersection, and the area was packed with people out enjoying their Sunday morning.

Investigators said strong wind is to blame for the collapse. A piece of plywood "acted like a sail" and blew the whole rig down.

Cellphone video shot moments after the collapse shows bystanders running in to help people trapped:

Two people had to be rescued from under the rubble. They and three others were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor, non-life threatening injuries.

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Press Coverage
NY1

Five people were hurt Sunday afternoon after scaffolding collapsed in Manhattan, police officials said.

"I turn around and you just see scaffolding coming down, some steel beams on the floor," witness Jon Sgouros said. "I thought it was a bomb or something, it was so loud."

FDNY Deputy Chief Chris Boyle said the 40-foot sidewalk shed collapsed onto the corner of Broadway and Prince Street in SoHo around 11:36 a.m.

The high winds appeared to have caused the scaffolding to collapse, which trapped multiple pedestrians, the FDNY said.

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Press Coverage
NBC News 4 New York
Sunday, November 19, 2017

Scaffolding collapsed in SoHo amid high winds Sunday, scattering debris across the street and injuring five people.

The scaffolding collapsed at Broadway and Prince Street, in the heart of SoHo. 

Video and photos showed large metal bars and pieces of wood scattered across the street as bystanders watched or ran to help. One video shows people frantically removing debris from a pile. 

At least one person was seen being taken away on a stretcher. Police said everyone who was hurt suffered minor, non-life-threatening injuries. 

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Press Coverage
CBS New York
Sunday, November 19, 2017

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Strong, gusty winds were being blamed Sunday evening for a scaffolding collapse in SoHo that left six people injured.

As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, one woman just walking down the street was buried under falling debris and had to be rescued.Witnesses posted photos to social media showing wooden planks and metal scaffolding strewn about at the corner of Prince Street and Broadway.

There were frantic moments after the 40-foot section of construction scaffolding suddenly crumpled to the ground at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Artists and Fleas Vendor Market. One woman was across the street inside a Dean & Deluca market.

“Everybody ran from the store to try to remove the rubble before anybody arrived and they got a lot of it off even before the fire department came,” one woman told WCBS 880’s Ethan Harp.

Will Alston works in the building where it happened.

“It was crazy! It was real crazy!” he said.

Alston rushed to help pull wooden plans and twisted metal off one injured woman who was bleeding from the head.

“First thing I did, I just ran outside to check on her — but she was basically like hurt really bad,” he said. “I was pulling some of the scaffold out.”

The FDNY took six people to the hospital – five civilians and a firefighter. All suffered minor injuries, with the most severely injured being a woman whose condition was stable at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue late Sunday, the FDNY said.

 

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