Annual Report, 3 Years As Your Council Member

Dear Friend,

It has been three years, five months and seven days since I began serving as your City Council Member. I am deeply proud of the work we have accomplished together and excited for the road ahead.

I want to thank all whom I have already had a chance to meet and look forward to meeting you or seeing you again at my District Office at 244 East 93rd Street for First Friday, Brainstorm with Ben, monthly events ( or I can come to you if you gather ten neighbors for Ben In Your Building.

If you would like to compare my goals with actions over the past two years, please have a look at my 2013 Policy Book as well as my Inauguration and three States of the District, where we looked to the past and prepared for a bright future. I am proud of these achievements, but I know we have much more to do together. Thank you for your support over the past two years. I am looking forward to all we can accomplish in the remainder of my first term.


Ben Kallos
Council Member



Constituent Service Cases: 6,149 and counting
Legislation Authored: 98
Introductions Authored: 82
Introductions Heard: 23 (28%)
Introductions Enacted into Law: 19 (23%)
Resolutions Authored: 16
Resolutions Adopted: 6 (38%)
Land Use Matters Adopted: 6
Legislation Authored Adopted or Enacted: 25 (26%)
City Council Attendance: 99% (341 Committee Meetings)
Governmental Operations Committee Hearings Chaired: 48
Legislation Passed by Committee: 53 (43 Introductions, 10 Resolutions)
Legislation Sponsored: 714
Legislation Sponsored Adopted or Enacted: 464 (65%)
Ben in Your Building: More than three dozen
First Fridays & Brainstorm with Ben: More than three dozen
Mobile Hours: Hundreds
Free Legal Clinics: Hundreds
Community Meetings: Hundreds
Petitions Signed:  4,290 and counting
Reusable Bags Distributed: 3,500+
Participatory Budgeting Investments in Community: $6.9 Million



  1. Winning More Pre-Kindergarten Seats
  2. Better Planning for School Seats
  3. Supporting Arts Education with Annual Show at Sotheby's
  4. Feeding Hungry Students
  5. Investing in STEM Education
  6. Green Roofs
  7. Supporting Free City and State University


  1. Opening the Second Avenue Subway
  2. Improving Bus Service with New Buses for the Upper East Side
  3. Improving Bus Service with Off-Board Fare Payment for M79 and M86
  4. New Ferry Service for the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island
  5. Roosevelt Island Tram Approved for Another 50 Years
  6. Focus on Safety for Our Most Dangerous Streets
  7. Extra Time for Pedestrians to Cross York Avenue
  8. New CitiBike Stations on the Upper East Side and Incentivized Safety Class
  9. Bike Safety Program Expansion to Entire Upper East Side and Midtown East
  10. Accessible Sidewalks for All


  1. Expanding and Rebuilding the East River Esplanade 
  2. Opened a New Park on East 90th Street Pier
  3. Conservancies and Funding for Local Parks
  4. Revitalizing the Waterfront Management Advisory Board


  1. Cleaning Up the Upper East Side with 300+ New Trash Cans
  2. A Plan to Take Scaffolding Down
  3. Improved Quality of Life Enforcement
  4. Supporting the Homeless with ETHOS


  1. Rezoning to Stop Superscrapers
  2. Challenging Skyscrapers in Residential Neighborhoods
  3. Safer Construction with Law to Count Every Life
  4. Won Two Rent Freezes
  5. Freezing Rents for Senior and Disabled New Yorkers
  6. Ended Downsizing of Seniors into Studio Apartments
  7. Uncovered Hundreds of Thousands of Units of Affordable Housing
  8. Protected Quiet Side Streets on the Mid-Block from Overdevelopment
  9. Mandatory Affordable Housing for New Neighborhood Plans
  10. Protected Landmarks Citywide
  11. Landmarked the Wooden House on East 85th Street
  12. Recognized for Leading Preservation
  13. Tenant Blacklist Regulation Proposed
  14. Opening Up Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS)
  15. Fighting For Tenant Safety
  16. Reformed the Board of Standards and Appeals


  1. Fighting the Marine Transfer Station


  1. Eliminated Outside Income and Legal Bribery
  2. Weakening the Influence of Special Interests Money in Politics
  3. Voter Information Portal Law Enacted
  4. Won Affordable High-Speed Internet for Low-Income New Yorkers
  5. Millions for the Community Voted for by Residents in Participatory Budgeting
  6. Demanded Answers on the Rivington Nursing Home Scandal
  7. Get Big Money out of New York City Politics
  8. Focusing on Better Management


Quality Of Life Enforcement
Construction Safety
Protecting Neighborhood Planning From Overdevelopment
Ethics Reform
Campaign Finance Reform
Election Reforms
Transparency In Government
Coastal Resiliency For Climate Change
Women’s Issues


Winning More Pre-Kindergarten Seats

Since running for office in 2013, I have advocated for Universal Pre-Kindergarten, joining Mayor de Blasio to win $300 million from Albany, only to be disappointed with the insufficient number of seats on the Upper East Side—154 seats for 2,767 four-year-olds as reported by WNYC in 2014. I have worked with parents, community groups, private providers and the Department of Education to quintuple the number of seats to 618 in 2016. In response to the loss of seats in 2017 we've expanded our coalition to include Congress Member Maloney, Comptroller Stringer, Public Advocate James, Borough President Brewer, Senator Krueger, Assembly Member Seawright and Quart and Council Member Garodnick, and have won two additional pre-kindergarten sites with two more in the pipeline for 2018-19 to bring over a hundred new seats to the neighborhood. If you are interested in working with our office to identify new locations in public or private schools or even retail space, please email UPKatBenkallos [dot] com.


Better Planning for School Seats

The New York Times in February 2017 covered my bill that would show just how many children on the Upper East Side and throughout the city are not offered a seat in the school of their choice and where they end up. In 2015, more than half of would be pre-kindergarteners on the Upper East Side were not offered school seats in their zip codes, 429 out of 796 or 54% of applicants. In 2016 in School District 2, spanning from the Financial District to the Upper East Side, 1,696 preschoolers took the Gifted and Talented exam with 838 eligible, 652 applying and only 346 receiving offers according to Department of Education, meaning 306 preschoolers, making up 47% of applicants, were turned away. For more information read the release at or coverage in the New York Times.


Supporting Arts Education with Annual Show at Sotheby's

As a lover of the arts, I am proud to host our third annual Public School Art Show at Sotheby's, where students see their work hanging in halls that have also hung the likes of Picasso and Rembrandt. Thank you to P.S. 183 Principal Tara Napoleoni, Art Teacher Wan Ling Fahrer and PTA President Patricia Correge for organizing this event. Hundreds of parents, teachers and young artists who had their artwork on display at the world famous Sotheby’s joined us from P.S. 6, P.S. 59, P.S. 77, P.S. 151, P.S. 158, P.S. 169, P.S. 183, P.S. 198, P.S. 267, P.S. 290, P.S. 527, East Side Middle School, Vanguard High School, and Yorkville East Middle School. I am already looking forward to next year’s show, which I am sure will be even bigger and better. View photos from the art show at learn more at


Feeding Hungry Students

No child should go hungry in one of the wealthiest cities in the world. But children who arrive late, don't have money for lunch or are simply too embarrassed to stand in a separate line and pay with a free lunch voucher go hungry and that is a problem. In all honesty as the child of single mom, I was one of those kids who made the poor choice to hungry. I am proud to have secured $6.25 million in 2014 to bring a free lunch pilot to Middle School students, $17.9 million in 2015 to fund “breakfast after the bell” to fight hunger for 339,000 children at 530 elementary schools, and $12.5 million for the coming school year to expand free lunch to every grade school student. I will continue to fight until all 1.1 million public school students can have a healthy breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner, so they don't have to worry where their next meal is coming from and can focus on learning.


Investing in STEM Education

I’ve invested over $2 million in discretionary funding from my office to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education in our local public schools with new computers, smart boards and science labs. Technology is where tomorrow’s jobs are being created. For our kids to be ready for the future we have to invest in STEM courses that train them from an early age. Schools that have received or are set to receive these STEM upgrades include:

  • P.S. 77 Lower Lab - $233,000 for mobile STEM carts, technology, laptops and A/C.
  • P.S. 151 Yorkville Community School - $143,000 for technology and laptops.
  • P.S. 158 Bayard Taylor - $324,000 for technology and laptops.
  • P.S. 183 Robert Stevenson - $203,000 for technology and laptops.
  • P.S. 198 Isador Ida Straus - $282,000 for classrooms, technology, laptops, and A/C
  • P.S./I.S. 217 Roosevelt Island - $295,000 for technology and laptops.
  • P.S. 225 Ella Baker - $75,000 for laptops.
  • P.S. 290 Manhattan New School - $75,000 for laptops.
  • P.S. 527 East Side School for Social Action - $175,000 for theater and technology.
  • M.S. 114 East Side Middle School - $106,000 for laptops.
  • M.S. 177 Yorkville East Middle School - $128,000 for technology and laptops.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt High School - $234,000 for classrooms, technology, and laptops.
  • Manhattan International High School - $140,000 for technology and laptops.
  • Urban Academy High School - $213,000 for technology and laptops.
  • Vanguard High School - $105,000 for technology and laptops.
  • Talent Unlimited High School - $195,000 for auditorium and technology.
  • Life Sciences Secondary and High School - $105,000 for technology and laptops.


Green Roofs

Over the past 3 years, through participatory budgeting and other discretionary funding, I have provided over $3 million to build greens roofs at schools all over the District 5 including:

  • P.S. 151 Yorkville Community School - $750,000 ($500,000 Participatory Budgeting)
  • P.S./I.S. 217 Roosevelt Island - $1 million ($500,000 from Participatory Budgeting)
  • P.S. 290 Manhattan New School - $1 million ($500,000 from Participatory Budgeting)
  • M.S. 114 East Side Middle School - $800,000

This will provide students an opportunity to be exposed to the future of energy and inspire them to look to careers of the future, as well as understand environmental protection.


Supporting Free City and State University

I am proud to support Governor Cuomo’s first in the nation Excelsior Scholarship for students whose families make $125,000 per year or less, who will now qualify for free college tuition at all City (CUNY) and State (SUNY) two- and four-year colleges in New York State as long as they live in state. When I ran for office in 2013, one of the "fresh ideas" for which the New York Times endorsed me was providing a debt-free higher education for CUNY students where the City would forgive student debt for every year the student remained in New York City after graduation, so that the taxes from their increased income would pay for their education and more. The new program begins in the fall of 2017 and will be phased in over three years. For details visit



Opening the Second Avenue Subway

I was pleased to join Governor Cuomo, MTA Chair Prendergast, MTA Capital Construction President Horodniceanu, Manhattan Borough President Brewer, Assembly Member Seawright and Building Trades President LaBarbera, to cut the ribbon on the 86th Street Second Avenue Subway Station. As reported by WABC 7, I also had the privilege of welcoming the New Year with an inaugural ride with Governor Cuomo, other elected officials, and residents who had to live through the construction. After so many years of construction and constant press conferences led by Congress Member Maloney to keep the construction on track, I am proud to finally have it open.


Improving Bus Service with New Buses for the Upper East Side

The Upper East Side is getting 79 new buses serving the M15, M101, M102, and M103, as reported in Our Town. After years of advocacy and analysis of BusTime data, I identified the issue of “missing buses” with the help of, and TWU Local 100. I brought the issue of “missing buses” to the attention of the MTA at a meeting convened by Senator Liz Krueger. The MTA shared that bus lines based out of the Tuskegee Depot in my district were among the oldest in the system, leading to more frequent than usual breakdowns, and they agreed to prioritize these buses for replacement. The new buses are equipped with WiFi, USB charging, next stop screens, and pedestrian safety measures. For more information, read the release or coverage in Our TownUpper East Side Patch or DNAinfo.


Improving Bus Service with Off-Board Fare Payment for M79 and M86

The M79 is an award winning bus line, having the dubious honor of winning the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign Pokey Award in 2014 for the slowest speed with a 3.2 mile per hour crawl, slower than Hawaiian Lava flow. According to BusTurnaround.NYC the M79 now goes 4.3 miles per hour, slower than most people walk. That is why in 2016, following great results from Select Bus Service implementation for the M86, I requested it for the remaining crosstown routes in my district: the M66, M96 and of course the M79. In May, the Department of Transportation released its progress report on the M86 SBS route, illustrating the success of the new route. In addition to a 96% customer satisfaction rating, the report notes that since the M86 SBS was established in July of 2015, ridership on the M86 route has grown by 7% and travel times have decreased by as much as 11%. If the M86 is any indicator I hope to see similar improvements in satisfaction for the M79 with the implementation of Select Bus Service. Read my remarks or the release from DOT and MTA, or watch the launch.


New Ferry Service for the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island

Ferry Service for the East Side and Roosevelt Island: Following years of advocacy from my campaign to office, I am proud that there will be new stops for Roosevelt Island in 2017 and 62nd and 90th Streets by 2018. Ferry rides will include free WiFi and will cost the same as MetroCard swipe as we utilize our waterfronts to improve commutes.


Roosevelt Island Tram Approved for Another 50 Years

After more than 20 years of operating on interim agreements, the City Council approved a 50-year franchise agreement between the City of New York and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC). The agreement was approved for two 25-year terms, granting the City the authority to negotiate with RIOC to continue operating the unique aerial tramway from Tramway Plaza on Second Avenue in Manhattan over the East River onto Roosevelt Island. As the Village Voice and Roosevelt Islander blog reported: “The Tram” has been managed by the State through RIOC since 1995 despite a bureaucratic quirk. The new agreement settles past issues that forced interim agreements to become the norm. Now by allowing for the continuation of advertising on the interior of the cars and stations, but prohibiting advertisements on the exteriors of the stations and tram cars, we were able to negotiate this agreement a generational agreement. It is clear now that the Roosevelt Island Tram is here to stay and after 20 years of needless bureaucracy, we’ve protected it. To find out more about this deal read the release or the articles in the Village Voice and Roosevelt Islander blog.


Focus on Safety for Our Most Dangerous Streets

Soon after taking office, we launched a "Livable Streets" program to promote safety for drivers, pedestrians, and bikers alike. We asked 60,000 families in my district to identify dangerous intersections and streetscape improvements and compiled your responses into two reports on Livable Streets, highlighting our Dangerous Intersections and proposing Street Improvements as covered by the Daily News. Following the report, the DOT and NYPD also released a Vision Zero Borough Pedestrian Safety Plan for Manhattan. They included included priority corridors on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Ave as well as intersections from my report: Lexington Avenue and East 86th Street, 2nd Avenue and East 79th Street, East 75th Street and 1st Avenue, East 62nd Street and 1st Avenue, 3rd Avenue and 57th Street, and 2nd Avenue and East 53rd Street. We are already starting to see repaving, medians, neckdowns, and other safety improvements on many of the intersections we presented to the City as part of Vision Zero. You can help improve our streets at


Extra Time for Pedestrians to Cross York Avenue

My office worked with the MTS Community Advisory Group (CAG), fellow elected officials and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to make safety improvements to the intersections surrounding the Marine Transfer Station site: agreeing to adjust signal timing on the intersections on York Avenue. Leading Pedestrian Interval Signals (LPIS), where the walk sign shows before cars get a green light, have been installed at 19 of the intersections. This will allow pedestrians on these corners the opportunity to enter the crosswalk before cars begin to turn.

Leading Pedestrian Interval Signals (LPIS) were installed along York Avenue at the following streets:
65th, 68th, 70th, 71st, 74th, 75th, 76th, 78th, 80th, 81st, 82nd, 83rd, 84th, 85th, 86th, 87th, 88th, 89th, 90th


New CitiBike Stations on the Upper East Side and Incentivized Safety Class

CitiBike has opened 25 stations on the Upper East Side in my Council District. Thank you to the hundreds of people who provided feedback, online and in person at community forums working with Department of Transportation and my office to find the right place for each station to benefit local businesses and residents. I wanted bike share users to be as safe as possible, so CitiBike provides a monthly 90-minute bike safety class at my office with the offer of a free day pass or additional month on an annual membership.


Bike Safety Program Expansion to Entire Upper East Side and Midtown East

Drivers, riders, bikers, and pedestrians have all expressed concerns about their safety, so we’ve expanded our Bike Safety Program with Council Member Garodnick to cover the Upper East Side and Midtown East within the 17th and 19th precincts stretching from East 30th Street all the way to East 96th Street. Injuries are down for motorists and pedestrians. When I launched the Bike Safety Program, Pix11, CBS2, WNBC, and amNY, reported on its goal of making our streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists to share with Education, Equipment, and Enforcement.

FREE Equipment with Education:

  • Vests, Lights, Bells and Helmets for delivery bikes following training class,
  • 90-minute training class in English, Spanish, and Chinese for delivery bikes,
  • Lights and Bells for recreational and commuting cyclists coupled with education,
  • Free Helmets,
  • Bikes for NYPD Bike Patrol,
  • Grading restaurants on use of safety equipment and e-bikes with East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association.

Enforcement in 2016:

  • 17,615 moving violations issued to motor vehicles (6,123 for improper turns, 3,003 for running red lights and 1,450 for not yielding to pedestrians).
  • 1,865 summonses issued to bicycle riders for disobeying red lights and riding the wrong way or on sidewalks (a nine-fold increase over 200 summonses issued by the 19th precinct in 2015).
  • 70 seizures of electronic bikes.

We’ve also added a protected bike lane on 2nd Avenue and bike lanes to 70th & 71st and 77th & 78th Streets. Learn more at


Accessible Sidewalks for All

After hearing from seniors and disabled members of the community who couldn't cross the streets because sidewalk ramps were inaccessible for walkers and wheelchairs, I introduced legislation that would require landlords to fix crumbling curb cuts to ensure the 889,219 New Yorkers with disabilities and nearly one million residents 65 or older can cross the street safely.





Expanding and Rebuilding the East River Esplanade 

When I came into office, the East River Esplanade was literally falling into the river. Working with Congress Member Maloney as co-chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce, I have secured $150 million from the city budget and kept work on track to rebuild and expand infrastructure from 53rd to 125th Streets:

  • $100 million from Mayor de Blasio to fill the gap from 53rd to 61st Streets
  • $35 million to repair the seawall and fix sinkholes from 60th to 125th Streets
  • $29 million to rebuild Andrew Haswell Green Park from 60th to 62nd Streets
  • $9 million secured from Rockefeller University from 62nd to 68th Streets
  • $1.2 million from Council District 5 funding for irrigation, renovation and planters from 68th to 70th Streets
  • $1 million secured from Hospital for Special Surgery to renovate 70th to 72nd Street with irrigation and planters and a master plan to 78th Street
  • $15 million to rebuild the crumbling stairwell from 78th to 81st Streets
  • $500,000 to renovate John Finley Walk following recommendations of CIVITAS from 84th to 81st Streets
  • $1 million from Council District 5 funding for irrigation from 90th to 96th Street


Opened a New Park on East 90th Street Pier

In late 2016, alongside Congress Member Carolyn Maloney and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, I inaugurated the 90th Street, Pier Park. Now there is an additional 2,000 square feet of new park space on the Upper East Side. Thank you to Friends of the East River Esplanade chair Jennifer Ratner for helping make this park a reality for the community. Since 2014, I have been advocating the Department of Transportation and the New York City Parks Department to work together and with local leaders and turn this unused space into a much-needed park. Read more about the new 90th Street Pier Park in the Upper East Side Patch and Manhattan Express.


Conservancies and Funding for Local Parks

There is less park space per resident on the Upper East Side than almost anywhere else in the City, which means we need to invest and care for every inch. I’ve been proud to work to help fund or support and fund numerous conservancies including for Sutton Place Parks ($26,000 since 2015), East River Esplanade ($21,000 since 2014), St. Catherine’s Park ($38,000 since 2014), John Jay Park ($3,000 since 2016), and Upper Green Side ($15,000 since 2015). Capital funding from my office amounted to:

  • Carl Schurz Playground - $2.5 million
  • Sutton Place Park Play Water Fountain (to Replace the Sand Pit) - $675,000 ($500,000 from the Speaker)
  • John Jay Park Senior Space - $350,000


Revitalizing the Waterfront Management Advisory Board

As sea levels rise and New York City continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy, we need to do as much as we can to protect our City from the dangers of climate change. In 2016, legislation I introduced to revive the Waterfront Management Advisory Board (WMAB) became law. This legislation reconstituted the role of the City’s Waterfront Management Advisory Board, ensuring it plays an important part in advising New York City on how to best revitalize and protect our 520 miles of shoreline. Under the new law, membership to the board is expanded to include more diverse voices as well as every level of government. Read the lawrelease with the full list of benefits, and from coverage on




Cleaning Up the Upper East Side with 300+ New Trash Cans

We are cleaning up the Upper East Side with 284 new large trash cans covering 104 intersections, which I purchased with $154,780 in initiative funding from my office. These new cans supplement the 38 I purchased last year with $20,710 in initiative funding as part of a successful pilot with the East 72nd and East 86th Street Neighborhood Associations. The East Sixties Neighborhood Association (ESNA) joined prior participants in requesting an expansion. The large cans feature a smaller opening designed to keep trash from spilling over onto the street with reports from the pilot of a decrease in litter and rodents. In addition to these efforts alongside DSNY,  I continue to work to get a Business Improvement District (BID) organized that will help keep the streets clean in perpetuity. Learn more about the cleanup efforts by reading the most recent press releases on the 284 trash cans, watching the press conference or WNBC or reading coverage in the Patch and DNAinfo. I promise to replace every small wire trash can with a new large trash can on every corner that needs one and add another on those corners that need it, so please email me to request your new large trash can.


A Plan to Take Scaffolding Down

In late 2016, The New York Times reported on a bill I introduced aimed at dismantling at least some of the unnecessary scaffolds that span over 190 miles of New York City. The nearly 9,000 scaffolds currently up in our city are supposed to be temporary, meant to protect pedestrians while construction is going or conditions are unsafe, however, many have become permanent fixtures, attracting crime and providing a bad alternative shelter for the city’s homeless. My bill would force property owners to fix dangerous conditions within 6 months or else the city could step in to do the work and bill them for the expenses. In 2017 the legislation continues to gain support by the community recently been editorialized The New York Times. To learn more about the bill watch the coverage from WNYW, WABC,WCBS,WNBC read the release or read about it in Crain’s New York Business, Metro Upper East Side Patch, Habitat or The New York Times.


Improved Quality of Life Enforcement

More than $1.6 billion in quality of life violations are in the process of being collected by the City after legislation I introduced was signed into law. Environmental Control Board (ECB) or quality of live violations are issued to owners who do not clean or shoveling sidewalks, leave out excessive trash, or engage in noisy construction before or after hours. Prior to this package of legislation becoming law, many of the fines would go unpaid or paid as a “cost of doing business.”  Prior to my law going into effect, we offered an amnesty program through Department of Finance to pay any outstanding violations without penalties or interest. My new law ensures that bad actors change their behavior or face the consequence of losing their license.


Supporting the Homeless with ETHOS

Homelessness continues to rise with 23,365 children, 17,847 family members, 3,785 single women, and 9,873 single men in our shelters, and more than 2,794 people on the streets. I launched the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) with Borough President Brewer, Senator Krueger, Council Member Garodnick, Department of Social Services (DSS), community and faith leaders and service organizations. We’ve already been able to help a chronically homeless individual in the community who we believe had long been suffering from mental illness, after a resident was willing to come forward working with me, the 19th Precinct, the District Attorney and DSS to get them the help they needed. We hope to get every unsheltered person living on the street the help they need. If you see one of our City’s most vulnerable on the street, please call 311 or use the NYC 311 App (Android/iPhone) to ask them to dispatch a “homeless outreach team.” They will ask where you saw the person, what they looked like, and offer report on whether the person accepts our city’s offer of shelter, three meals a day, health care, rehabilitation, and job training. By connecting our dedicated nonprofits and religious institutions with city services, ETHOS is really making a difference. Learn more about the coalition and our members at




Rezoning to Stop Superscrapers

When community members and I heard about these plans for a superscraper in April 2015, we sprang to action launching a petition that garnered support from over a thousand residents. In May 2015, within 45 days, Community Board 6 passed a resolution calling on the City Planning Commission to cap heights of the mid-blocks between First Avenue and Sutton, just like the rest of the neighborhood. But we didn’t wait for City Planning to do it for us, because we’d still be waiting. So I began visiting buildings throughout the neighborhood with the then Sutton Area Community President Dieter Seelig, to speak with residents about how they could help. I soon partnered with residents like Alan Kersh for a community-led rezoning effort joined by 45 neighborhood buildings and 2,000 individual supporters. Our efforts to stop the building of a proposed 1000 foot superscraper in the Sutton area was covered by Bloomberg News and the Daily News as the most sweeping residential re-zoning plan by a community group in New York City history. With the help of local heroes like Herndon Werth and Charles Fernandez, both of whom refused several buyout offers of their homes, as covered in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, we’ve been winning the fight. In January 2016, we filed our pre-application and after months of pre-application meetings in December 2016, the East River Fifties Alliance, Borough President Brewer, State Senator Krueger, Council Member Garodnick and I formally filed our rezoning application. In June 2017, the City Planning Commission finally certified our application to rezone the mid-blocks of the Sutton area with a cap of 210 feet or as high as 260 if affordable housing is included on-site. Community Board 6 Manhattan has scheduled two additional meetings for a previously unheard of the 21-day timeline to return the application back to City Planning for a public hearing and vote. The city is watching, because this has never been done before and it is a race against time, one we hope to win!

Join the fight at:

Challenging Skyscrapers in Residential Neighborhoods

Construction of at 524-foot skyscraper at 180 East 88th Street was stopped through most of 2016, as reported by the New York Times. The stop work order was issued by the Department of Buildings after Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Liz Krueger, Carnegie Hill Neighbors, local Planner George M. Janes, and I pointed out that the developer was creating a “four foot lot” loophole in order to build much higher than is legally allowed on the side streets in our neighborhood. The Wall Street Journal reported on our most recent zoning challenge mounted against the building, which came after the Department of Buildings approved new “amended” zoning plans. We will continue to fight overdevelopment.


Safer Construction with Law to Count Every Life

In the last 2 years, a record 33 construction workers have been killed on the Job in New York City, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Department of Buildings (DOB) does not count all of them, especially non-workers who are injured.

The New York Daily News reported on my Constructions Safety legislation that recently became law. Under Int. 1433-A construction companies will be forced to report on all details surrounding injuries and deaths at constructions sites or face fines up to $25,000. We must count every injury and every life, so that we will know the who, what, where and why around every injury or death to help make construction in our city safer. For more information on this law, or coverage in the New York Daily News.


Won Two Rent Freezes

Tenants and I continue to rally together calling on the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) to roll back rents for all 1 million rent-stabilized tenants. In 2014, we won the lowest rent increase in history at 1%. In 2015, we won the first-ever rent freeze from the RGB, and in 2016, we won a second consecutive rent freeze from RGB. These were huge victories, but it is only a small respite for tenants who lived through far-too-high increases over the previous 20 years when rent has outstripped inflation by 14%. The increases were particularly burdensome during the Bloomberg Administration when rent increased significantly despite the economic recession. We need a roll back to correct for these increases so the more than 1 million rent-stabilized apartments continue to be affordable for the residents living in them. The Wall Street Journal has even reported that the numbers support our cause. Join our fight


Freezing Rents for Senior and Disabled New Yorkers

I was proud to cosponsor and vote for an expansion of the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disabled Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE). The legislation expanded income eligibility for those receiving SCRIE and DRIE benefits to $50,000 from $29,000 – which will help many more seniors and disabled residents live at ease in New York City.


Ended Downsizing of Seniors into Studio Apartments

We rallied together with tenants to demand a moratorium on Section 8 Downsizing, a policy that was pushing seniors and disabled New Yorkers into smaller homes. Since then, we have won a huge victory as HPD has ceased downsizing of elderly couples and families from one bedroom to studio apartments.


Uncovered Hundreds of Thousands of Units of Affordable Housing

The New York Daily News and NBC 4 covered my legislation that requires owners of affordable housing to register those units with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) who would in turn create a centralized database that accepts a single universal application for all affordable housing. Landlords have received over $1 billion dollars in tax breaks and abatements to build affordable housing, but the City has no way to verify that the affordable units were built. Recent investigations by ProPublica, in which I was featured, found that between 50,000 – 200,000 units of affordable housing are being hidden from New Yorkers. Our City is in desperate need of affordable housing and we cannot allow landlords to hide even a single unit of it from the public. Please help ProPublica investigate New York City Rents.


Protected Quiet Side Streets on the Mid-Block from Overdevelopment


When the Mayor’s housing plan called for adding height to the contextual height caps that protect the East Side’s quiet side streets, I opposed the measure with Borough President Gale Brewer and Senator Liz Krueger, so developers wouldn’t tear down rent stabilized buildings to get more height. The Department of City Planning heard us, and agreed to protect the midblock.


Mandatory Affordable Housing for New Neighborhood Plans

As amended and passed by the City Council, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (MIH/ZQA) requires new affordable housing to be built whenever developers are given additional height or density to build in Manhattan.

In ZQA I fought for and won:

  • No height increases in R8B districts protecting the quiet midblock with a 75-foot height cap on the East Side.
  • Reduced height increases, bringing the maximum R10A increase from 50 feet to 25 feet with different heights for narrow and wide streets of 210 feet and 235 feet.
  • Protected seniors from being squeezed into 275 square foot micro units.
  • Protected the Sliver Law which prevents towers narrower than 40 feet wide.

In MIH I fought for and won:

  • Housing for lower income New Yorkers at 40 percent of Area Median Income (AMI): $31,000 for a family of three.
  • An additional option for 20 percent at 40 percent of AMI.
  • Required HPD to track, register, and monitor new affordable housing as would be required by Introduction 1015, legislation I authored.

Learn more at


Protected Landmarks Citywide

After marking the 50th anniversary of the landmarks law, the law came under attack, first with a proposal to remove hundreds of buildings from protection without review, and then with legislation that would have created a five-year moratorium incentivizing historic communities to be razed. In response and in opposition we forced the Landmarks Preservation Commission to review each and every site in the backlog and a version of the legislation did pass in 2016, after my advocacy it was amended to remove the moratorium and added more time.


Landmarked the Wooden House on East 85th Street

Recently after many years of work alongside FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic District, we succeeded in the preservation of the small wooden clapboard house at 412 East 85th Street by the Landmarks and Preservations Commission and the City Council. We have also worked with FRIENDS to fight back appeals from the Stahl Company in order to keep the City and Suburban First Avenue Estates landmarked.


Recognized for Leading Preservation

I was honored to receive a Grassroots Preservation Award from the Historic Districts Council (HDC). I have great respect for HDC because of the work they do to keep New York quintessentially New York. HDC has been a valuable partner while I have been in office, contributing to my fight against over-development. In the 3 years and months since I took office, I have worked with HDC on more issues than we ever could have expected, including:

  • Protecting the First Avenue Estates’ landmark status from appeal;
  • Stopping the Landmarks Mass De-calendaring;
  • Fighting Introduction 775, the bill that would shorten the landmarking timeline and institute five-year landmarking moratorium;
  • Protecting the Sliver Law, Mid-Block, and Historic Districts from MIH/ZQA;
  • Landmarking the Wooden House at 412 East 85th Street;
  • Authored and passed into law reforms to Board of Standards and Appeals that will make it harder to have laws that protect landmarks waived for developers;


Tenant Blacklist Regulation Proposed

The New York Times covered legislation I introduced in August of 2016 with Public Advocate Letitia James and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, along with support from Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell and State Senator Liz Krueger. If you have been to housing court whether you won your case or not, you are likely on the Tenant Blacklist. The legislation I introduced ensures that tenant screening companies who create “tenant blacklists” would be regulated and forced to provide fair and complete information, including court records that show when tenants were in the right. The aim is to decrease the number of prospective tenants who are being denied a place to live because they were involved in a housing court case. This bill would go hand in hand with another bill I introduced in 2015 that allows tenants to file complaints with the New York City Commission on Human Rights if they are discriminated against based on housing court information. Under my tenant blacklist bill, screening companies would be required to obtain a license from the Department of Consumer Affairs and pay a fine for inaccurate reporting. Anyone who believes they have been harmed by an inaccurate screening report could bring their own case in court. Learn more by reading the release or checking out the coverage by DNAinfo, Real Deal, Curbed, and the New York Times.


Opening Up Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS)

The Wall Street Journal reported on legislation I introduced to improve access to the city’s 538 privately owned public spaces (POPS). The legislation imposes steep fines for bad landlords who violate the terms of their agreements with the City. POPS are created when developers want to build bigger buildings than neighborhoods are zoned for. In exchange for permission, developers turn small lots into open or green space for public use. Building owners are then responsible for maintaining the space in perpetuity. My legislation would require signage at all POPS detailing amenities, hours of operation, and a website for the public to find more information, and would set higher fines for those who close off their public space.


Fighting For Tenant Safety

A package of legislation totaling 12 bills aimed at stopping landlord-tenant harassment in New York City was heard in the Committee on Housing and Buildings in April. Whether it is unreasonable construction noise or safety violations by landlords putting tenants at risk this is a pressing issue in our City that needs to be stopped. My legislation, Int. 931would force landlords and property owners to actually respond to the violations and summonses they are given by the City for failing to make repairs, or else face the threat of foreclosure on their properties. For far too long some landlords and building owners have neither fixed recurring problems on their properties nor paid the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end. If my bill becomes law, that would stop. For more information on my bill and the rest of the package of legislation read the Stand for Tenant Safety release and coverage in City Land.


Reformed the Board of Standards and Appeals

Many buildings on the Upper East Side that contribute to overdevelopment were built in conflict with the zoning law, thanks to permission from a little known five-member City agency called the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). In the past developers have been able to circumvent city zoning laws that restrict building heights, shapes, use, density, and affordability with favorable decisions from the BSA, despite opposition from neighbors, community boards, and elected officials. I pledged to reform the BSA when I ran for office and again at my Inauguration. Inspired by the 1976 and 2004 reports of the Municipal Arts Society, the five laws I authored were coupled with a bipartisan package of bills that together will reform applications, decisions, notifications, staffing and transparency at the BSA. For more information read the release or and read the coverage in the Queens Chronicle, Sunny Side Post and the Staten Island Advance.



Fighting the Marine Transfer Station

We continue to fight the Marine Transfer Station and thanks to your support we've already accomplished:

  • Questioned increase of $120 million per year in waste export costs;
  • Introduced legislation to mandate source separation in public places to improve dismal commercial recycling rates;
  • Ensured zoned trash pickup is done fairly to protect the East Side;
  • Brought attention to dangers of garbage trucks in residential neighborhoods following tragic death of local resident hit by a garbage truck;
  • Moved the ramp one block north to protect 35,000 children from all over the city who play at Asphalt Green in partnership with P2P and the local community;
  • Introduced air quality monitoring legislation to protect us from pollution;
  • Forced commitments from DSNY under oath to limit use to only 1,800 of the total 5,200 tons per day capacity, keeping more than 300 garbage trucks off our streets;
  • Advocated for and secured funding for guardrails on garbage trucks and other large city vehicles;
  • Advocated for and won a citywide goal of zero waste and introduced legislation to make Marine Transfer-to-landfill obsolete by 2030;
  • Exposed high costs increasing from $93/ton to $278/ton for a total price tag of $632 million;
  • Built a three borough coalition against garbage dumps in residential neighborhoods;

Join the fight at




Eliminated Outside Income and Legal Bribery

Daily NewsWhen I ran for office, I promised to work for you full time without taking money on the side from private employment as a lawyer. I also promised to work for you, not the Speaker of the City Council, foregoing the common practice of receiving tens of thousands in personal income called a “lulu” for being a Committee Chair, which the Daily News long called “legal bribery.” 47 Council Members, were offered a stipend of between $5,000 and $25,000 for serving as committee chairs or leadership. 34 council members made a pledge to Citizens Union as council candidates in 2013 to limit stipends to the Speaker and Minority Leader. Despite their pledges, only 10 members refused the money in 2014 and for their entire terms with two more joining in 2015. So I kept my pledge, the Daily News saluted my integrity calling me a “Hero” and I wrote the law that made outside income and lulus illegal so that all city elected officials would work exclusively for their constituents.


Weakening the Influence of Special Interests Money in Politics

Daily NewsNew York City’s model campaign finance system was protected and improved by a package of legislation the Council passed into law in December of 2016, as reported by the New York Daily News and the Gotham Gazette.

We passed the following key laws:

  • Closing Campaign for One New York Loophole (Law 181 of ’16, co-prime sponsor) – by limiting contributions to non-profits controlled by elected officials and disclosing donors.
  • Quelling Special Interests Dollars (Law 167 of ‘16) – by ending the practice of matching funds bundled by lobbyists and special interests with public dollars.
  • Early Public Fund Payments (Law 168 of ‘16) – to help campaigns that take public dollars get on the ballot and reach voters.
  • Better Debates (Law 169 of ‘16) – by only including campaigns that are spending money to win.
  • Save Paper and Money on Voter Guide (Law 170 of ’16) – by allowing voters to opt-out of receiving mailers.
  • Same Day and Online Registration Advocacy (Res. 1061 of ’16) – to pass state constitutional amendment.


Voter Information Portal Law Enacted

Following problems at the Board of Elections in the presidential primary, the City Council passed my Voter Information Portal legislation into law. Nearly ten years after I launched, the portal will allow any voter to look up their voter registration status, poll site location, and voting history. It allows voters to track the status of an absentee ballot from request to submission, ensuring that even if someone can't physically vote at a poll site, they can still ensure their ballot gets counted. Had this voter portal been in place for April's primary election, hundreds of thousands of voters would not have had to find out they could not vote at their poll sites, when, for many, it was too late to do anything to fix it.


Won Affordable High-Speed Internet for Low-Income New Yorkers

In 2013, I promised to secure affordable broadband for low-income New Yorkers from our internet franchisers. In 2015, when Charter Communications sought to merge with Time Warner Cable to, I joined Public Advocate James testifying at hearings and advocating for the Public Service Commission to require any company acquiring Time Warner Cable help bridge the digital divide by providing low-income residents with low-cost, high-speed broadband Internet.

In March, I fulfilled my promise by announcing Spectrum Internet Assist, a new low-cost, high-speed broadband program, alongside Public Advocate Letitia James and Charter Communications. It is my hope that this initiative will help close the digital divide by providing nearly one million people with affordable high-speed internet access for the first time. 

Spectrum Internet Assist
$14.99 per month for 30 Mbps downloads and 4 Mbps uploads, email and more
No contract, no cost for modem and no activation fees

Spectrum Internet Assist Eligibility
Families with children in public schools who receive free or reduced-cost lunch
Seniors (over 65) who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

For more information read the release, see the coverage on NBC 4NY1DNAinfo or West Side Spirit, or visit


Millions for the Community Voted for by Residents in Participatory Budgeting

Since taking office I have taken part in the Council’s Participatory Budgeting (PB) initiative. PB is a hyper-local process in which residents directly decide how to spend part of their Council Member’s discretionary funds. In other words you get to decide how your tax dollars get spent. PB is grassroots democracy at its best. It helps make budget decisions clear and accessible. It gives real power to people who have never before been involved in the political process. And it results in better budget decisions - because who better knows the needs of our community than the people who live there? In term of public participation, the 2017 PB cycle has been our most successful totaling nearly 2,500 votes. Learn more at


Demanded Answers on the Rivington Nursing Home Scandal

As chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, I have held a series of oversight hearings, covered in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal where we have investigated and gotten many answers about what really happened at the Rivington nursing home. After deed restrictions were lifted, the property was sold becoming luxury condos. By questioning City Hall officials under oath and in public, we got a detailed account of what went wrong and passed a law to prevent it from happening again. Now, as covered by the Daily News, the City is putting new deed restriction modification applications through a new review process that includes greater community input.


Get Big Money out of New York City Politics

New York City’s campaign finance system matches the first $175 of contributions from residents by 6 to 1 and gives participating candidates a partial public matching grant of up to 55% of the spending limit in competitive races. This leaves more than 1/3 of the funds outstanding between the public matching grant and the spending limit, which must be reached to be competitive. The “big dollar gap” for Mayor is $2.5 million.

Introduction 1130-A that I authored and introduced with Council Members Lander and Cabrera, increases the public matching grant from an arbitrary partial match of 55% to a full match. Every small dollar raised from city residents would be matched 6 to 1. Candidates could still raise contributions of $4,950 for Mayor, but would be incentivized to seek small donations from many more residents by matching every small dollar.

As covered in the Gotham Gazette, I rallied with activists from: Citizen Action, New York Immigration Coalition, New York Communities for Change, Patriotic Millionaires, Strong Economy for All, Urban Justice Center, Tenants and Neighbors, Historic Districts Council, colleagues and candidates to get big money out of city politics with Introduction 1130-A. Following the rally, I held a hearing of the Committee on Governmental Operations at which a diverse coalition of good government, immigration, women in politics, housing, preservation, and economic justice groups testified in support of the bill. We also received supportive testimony from the Mayor’s office.

If you support Int. 1130-A contact you Council Member and ask them to sign on. For more information, read the Gotham Gazette article, watch the press conference and the hearing, and sign the petition at


Focusing on Better Management

Since I took office, I have argued that the city needs to use the Mayor’s Management Report (MMR) effectively and transparently so that New Yorkers can judge for themselves how well our city is being managed. As the Wall Street Journal reported, I warned that the “bar was being set too low” in the MMR on important issues like public safety, public health, or helping homeless off the streets. After three years of work on this issue as chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, we have made significant progress. In late 2016, the Mayor’s Office of Operations announced that agency rulemaking and agency spending would now be more transparent and accurate in its reporting. The Citizens Budget Commission supports my assertion that New Yorkers should have details on how their tax dollars are being invested in improving our city. The Mayor’s administration had made a commitment to continue to work together on getting our management reporting and the city back on track in 2017.




  • Catching Scofflaws (Law 45 of ’16) – Information added to all quality of life violations will help identify who is responsible and collect fines.
  • Stopping Repeat Offenders (Law 47 of ’16) – City agencies that issue quality of life violations are now required to deny, suspend, or revoke licenses and permits for unpaid fines or repeat offenders.


  • Counting Every Life on the Construction Site (Law 78 of '17) - by forcing contractors to report injuries and deaths at constructions sites or face fines up to $25,000 to count every injury and every life, so that we will know the who, what, where and why around every injury or death to help make construction in our city safer.


  • Application Requirements (Law 103 of '17) - for developers to show why zoning laws should not apply to them with fines of up to $15,000 for knowingly falsifying information.
  • Financial Expertise (Law 102 of '17) - provided for the city with a state certified Real Estate Appraiser to review and analyze developers' financials.
  • Protecting Neighborhood Plans (Law 101 of '17) - by designating a coordinator at City Planning Commission to defend the city's plan from unnecessary variances.
  • Reporting on Variances (Law 104 of '17) - including the number of pre-application meeting requests, number of applications, number of variances approved or denied, and the average length of time for decisions.
  • Map to Prevent Rezoning by Variance (Law 105 of '17) - with an interactive online map of all variances and special permits granted since 1998.


  • Prohibiting Outside Income (Law 20 of ’16) – The City Council now works full time for the people without the influence of other sources of income.
  • Eliminating “Legal Bribery” (Res. 980 of ’16) – Former Speakers used to reward Council Member allies with payments in lieu of compensation, or “lulus,” a practice that the Daily News called “legal bribery.” My resolution banned it from the City Council.


  • Closing Campaign for One New York Loophole (Law 181 of ’16, co-sponsor) – by limiting contributions to non-profits controlled by elected officials and disclosing donors.
  • Quelling Special Interests Dollars (Law 167 of ‘16) – by ending the practice of matching funds bundled by lobbyists and special interests with public dollars.
  • Early Public Fund Payments (Law 168 of ‘16) – to help campaigns that take public dollars get on the ballot and reach voters.
  • Better Debates (Law 169 of ‘16) – by only including campaigns that are spending money to win.


  • Voter Information Portal (Law 65 of ’16) – Will empower voters to track an absentee ballot, find poll site location, view ballots, and verify registration status and that votes were counted.
  • Pro-Voter Law Expansion (Law 63 of ’14) - requires 25 city agencies to provide voter registration forms and assist individuals with completing them, so everyone gets registered.
  • Online Voter Guide (Law 43 of ‘14) - saving the environment and money, while increasing access to information in off-year uncontested elections.
  • Save Paper and Money on Voter Guide (Law 170 of ’16) – by allowing voters to opt-out of receiving mailers.
  • Same Day and Online Registration Advocacy (Res. 1061 of ’16) – to pass state constitutional amendment.
  • Teens on Community Boards (Res. 115 of ‘14) – opens community boards to our best and brightest 16 and 17-year-olds


  • Open Legislation (Res. 184 of ’14, co-sponsor) – as part of the Council’s rules reform process, I provided language requiring posting legislation online and public engagement.
  • Open Mapping (Law 108 of ’15) - standardizes address and geospatial information so Open Data has location information.
  • Law Online (Law 37 of ‘14, co-prime sponsor) – puts our city’s law online for you to search, download, and read.
  • City Record Online (Law 38 of ‘14) – public notices from the city, previously published in a daily newspaper, are now online and fully searchable so you can learn what is happening in your community.


  • Reforming Waterfront Management (Law 96 of ’16) – resuscitates an advisory board for advocates, experts, and all levels of government to use and protect over 500 miles of shoreline.


  • National Women’s History Museum (Res. 354 of ‘14) – supporting Congress Member Maloney’s successful passage.