On Manhattan’s East Side, the number of traffic collisions involving cyclists is on pace to continue on a downward trend: to date, there have been 228 collisions involving cyclists in 2017, down from 350 in 2016 and 373 in 2015, according to NYPD data. The number of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians injured in collisions on the East Side dropped over the same period.
Since 2012, 1,194 cyclists have been injured in collisions with motor vehicle on the East Side, but none have been killed, according to an analysis of NYPD data covering East Side zip codes from 26th to 96th Streets performed by the office of Council Member Ben Kallos. Thirty-nine pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles over the same period, along with 2,722 injured. Since 2012, no pedestrians have been killed in collisions with bicycles in the East Side zip codes covered in the analysis.
Police in the 17th and 19th precincts have issued 1,557 summonses to bicyclists so far this year, mostly for running red lights and failing to give pedestrians the right of way. Motor vehicle operators received nearly 16,000 summonses in the two precincts over the same period, including 1,541 to drivers for not giving the right of way to pedestrians.
As New York State’s archaic election and voting laws continue to dampen voter turnout, the New York City Council is about to take a step to encourage participation. The City Council’s governmental operations committee will vote on Tuesday, November 14 to approve a bill allowing online voter registration for city residents, Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the committee, told Gotham Gazette on Thursday. The bill is then expected to pass the full City Council on Thursday.
“With the historic low in turnout on Tuesday, online voter registration will be an essential tool to help more residents become voters,” Kallos said in a phone interview, referring to the 22 percent of registered voters who showed up to the polls to vote for mayor. Following the committee vote, the bill will head to the Council floor for a vote at its next stated meeting, he said.
UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Two Democrats will represent the Upper East Side in the New York City council for the next four years.
Ben Kallos and Keith Powers won elections for the third and fourth districts in the city's legislative body. The New York Times called both elections for the Democrats a little more than an hour after polls closed Tuesday night.
Kallos defeated Republican Frank Spotorno to win his second term in the council's fifth district.
Powers, who will represent most of central and east Midtown, defeated Republican Rebecca Harary, the Times reported. Powers, a longtime political aide, will take over the seat vacated by the term-limited Daniel Garodnick.
Mayor Bill de Blasio easily defeated his little-known challengers to earn a second term Tuesday night, capping a sleepy campaign season with an easy win. NY1 declared victory for the Democratic incumbent at 9:26 p.m., less than a half hour after the polls closed.
Since August 2008, the front of the Department of Buildings' headquarters in lower Manhattan has been covered by a sidewalk shed. The unsightly steel-and-wood structure outside 280 Broadway stood because for years the city had set aside no money to pay to fix the crumbling facade.
"Thankfully, work has commenced as of a few months ago," Patrick Wehle, an assistant buildings commissioner, said at a City Council hearing last week. But the point had been made: Because it's much costlier to fix a façade than to maintain a shed that devours sidewalk space, blocks sunlight and hurts businesses, and no deadline to remove it, sheds have spread across the city. There are now 8,843—about 200 miles worth—and they pop up any time a building is built or repaired, as Crain's documented in a cover story last year.
Late last year City Councilman Ben Kallos sponsored a bill to stop the scourge and last week a hearing was finally held to discuss it.
The application grows out of Gamma Real Estate’s 3 Sutton Place (now called Sutton 58). The project was previously enmeshed in squabbles between its original developer and lender. Now the project has been hit with the ERFA zoning application co-signed by Councilmen Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and State Senator Liz Krueger and proposing capping the height of the building. Why? A recent article in Commercial Observer suggests that Gamma officials believe the zoning application stems from the tower’s neighbors complaining that they would lose their views.
Over the past decade, a forest of slender, cloud-piercing towers has been shoehorned into modest-sized lots along West 57th Street and lower Fifth Avenue. Skyscrapers on broader footprints have shot up from the Hudson Yards to the World Trade Center.
While not on the same scale, even the Upper West Side — long resistant to bulky, boxy, outsized glass-sheathed structures — has been getting its fair share since 2007, when the 37-story Ariel East and 31-story Ariel West first dwarfed its neighbors in the Broadway corridor.
For years, the Upper East Side, with plenty of exceptions, was a low-rise redoubt. Not anymore. The dawn of the Second Avenue subway, and a long-anticipated, if embryonic, eastward flow of residents, has fueled a construction boom that is literally raising the roof on the neighborhood.
And it has already provoked a significant backlash: Community Board 8, which represents the old Silk Stocking District, and City Council Member Ben Kallos, who has campaigned to “Stop Super-Scrapers,” are backing a proposal to rein in the loftier heights sought by dozens of developers.
“No one wants to live in the shadow of a billionaire,” Kallos said in an interview. “When you have buildings that are 60- or 100-feet high, and then suddenly someone wants to build 500-feet high or taller, well, that is when folks take exception.”
Local City Council member Ben Kallos claimed Fetner plans to cluster the affordable apartments on lower floors and reserve the upper flowers for higher-paying tenants. But representatives for Fetner and NYCHA deny that.
Kallos said he would support the infill program only if it was fully affordable and argued that the $25 million Fetner paid the agency for the land was far too low. “It would be a violation of anyone’s fiduciary duty at a company to sell off all of your assets, leaving you without the money you need to maintain your existing properties and no plan to get out of it,” he said. “There are some apartments in my district that cost $25 million,” the council member added.
The New York City Council passed legislation on Tuesday mandating that the government agency that oversees the city’s $85.2 billion annual budget provide all budget documents to the public in an easily accessible and machine-readable format.
The legislation, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee, requires the Office of Management and Budget to post documents released in the annual budget process to the city’s open data portalwithin 10 days of posting them on their website. OMB produces multiple iterations of the city’s budget each year as the annual expenditure plan is negotiated between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council. These include the preliminary budget proposal, the executive budget proposal and the final adopted budget, each of which contain hundreds of pages with detailed breakdowns of agency spending and city revenues. The agency also issues a budget modification document in November.
VIPs from corporate business, politics, VC and academia spoke and were honored during the program, among them Sanford Weill, Andrew Tisch, Ronald Lauder, Dr. Irwin Jacobs, Benchmark venture partner Scott Belsky and NYC Council Member Ben Kallos (who coined the term Silicon Island for the new campus overlooking central Manhattan and Long Island City).
Now all it takes is critical mass for the new campus to take off and really become a Silicon Island!
At Cornell Tech (a joining of Cornell University and Technion in an initiative led by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to create the campus as a springboard by NYC tech), the focus was on how the institution's focus on research, entrepreneurship and intellectual rigor will have an economic impact on New York City.
NYC Council Member Ben Kallos (D – Upper East Side) said it is difficult to understand how DDG safety managers could be unaware of the smoke breaks, given how blatant some laborers were about their pot smoking.
"It’s pretty hard to believe that a developer would have workers go literally across the street, smoke up, and then come back to the site and then deny that they know what is going on," Kallos said. "That’s a problem."
The 27 City Council members who have announced their support for the project by way of a letter to the MTA board and its chairman, Joe Lhota, include Jimmy Van Bramer, Margaret Chin, Laurie Cumbo, Rafael Espinal, Ben Kallos, Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, and Jumaane Williams.
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill late last year to stop Airbnb hosts from turning their apartments into de facto hotels, bigger fines were supposed to deter a practice elected officials argued took much-needed apartments off the rental market.
But more than six months after city inspectors’ first round of enforcement, the de Blasio administration has collected only a fraction of the issued fines, which added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a Crain’s analysis. In large part, the trouble is rooted in the city’s long-flawed collection system—where cases and appeals can take months to process and landlords have little reason to pay up—which could ultimately defang efforts to curb illegal home sharing.
We are getting ready to fight,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, a critic of residential skyscrapers who supports the board’s proposal and is working to advance it from idea to reality. He has reason to be hopeful.
The City Planning Commission held a hearing last week on another proposal in Kallos’ district that would limit heights in Sutton Place.
All of this is playing out on the Upper East Side, where social-service groups and community-based nonprofits, churches and synagogues, block associations and community boards, and civic, faith and elected leaders — not to mention a perplexed citizenry — are grappling with the homeless issue. And mulling a basic question: To give or not to give?
Those ruminations, like so much else today, burst into public view with a tweet.
The scene was the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, at 337 East 74th Street, on the evening of October 16th, where the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association was holding a public meeting, and City Council Member Ben Kallos was discussing the homeless problem.
That night, says Tina Larsson, the group’s secretary-treasurer, she tweeted a message that emerged from his presentation, and shortly after, Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and Midtown East, retweeted it.
“Don’t give money to the homeless in our neighborhood,” she wrote. “Donate to the faith-based institutions that help them instead.”
The sharp surge in the homeless presence locally has been disturbing to residents, Larsson says. She notes a small square at 75th Street on the west side of First Avenue near the Saratoga apartment building as one problem spot.
And she cited a local nuisance known as the “Spitting Lady of 77th Street,” a longtime fixture on Third Avenue who cursed, screamed and spat upon people, often children. The woman became the focus of a Facebook page, and an online petition to de Blasio demanding her removal that garnered 1,500 signatures. She hasn’t been spotted since May.
Handouts to people like that encourage their behavior, increase the volume of solicitations and fuel dependency, the argument goes. “If you keep giving them money, they’ll keep staying here,” Larsson said.
Kallos say his constituents are deeply compassionate. “And when they see someone on the street, many people give from the bottom of their hearts,” he says. “The problem is for everyone else in the neighborhood who don’t want to see panhandlers, those who give are literally paying them to be there.”
He regularly addresses groups of as many as 100 residents in their buildings, asking for a show of hands of those who give cash to street beggars. Typically, some 10 percent of attendees raise their hands, and Kallos will implore, “Please stop doing that. You are paying them to stay there.”
Offering money can also discourage the needy from accepting tax-supported city services that could get them off the streets, he argues.
The alternative? “If you want to help someone on the street, call 311,” Kallos urges, saying a call can open the door to city shelter, three square meals a day, substance abuse programs, job training, even money to help pay the rent.
Previously the rezoning wanted to curtail the height of buildings in this area to 260 feet, but after City Planning raised concerns about that rezoning, the Alliance altered its rezoning proposal.
This latest effort has the backing of several local elected officials including City Council member Ben Kallos. In order for Gamma to move forward with its current plan for the tower, it will have to complete construction on the foundation by Thanksgiving. That’s basically impossible, Kalikow told AM New York.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has championed the expansion of affordable housing throughout all five boroughs, but he, as well as the City Planning Commission, opposed the ERFA’s original rezoning proposal, which was backed by several community representatives, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the residents of Sutton Place. New York State Senator Liz Krueger has backed the proposal, and recently, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney signed on in support of the ERFA’s mission, having already written and voiced concerns to the CPC on the organization’s behalf, according to an ERFA spokeswoman.
“The BSA is the most powerful city agency that no one has ever heard of,” said New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents District 5 (the east side of Manhattan from Midtown up to East Harlem). “It literally has the power to change how neighborhoods are planned without going through the regular city planning process.”
Kallos, who sponsored five of the nine bills in the BSA legislative reform package that the City Council passed in May, said his interest in the body goes back more than a decade to his time as a member of Manhattan’s Community Board 8 and concerns that arose as he witnessed his Upper East Side neighborhood “turn from a residential neighborhood into a commercial and hospital district.”
“I watched a parade of applicants come in and build buildings that could never be built under the current neighborhood plan,” he recalled.
Alongside Kallos, who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, the reforms drew bipartisan support from Democratic Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Republican Minority Leader Steven Matteo, as well as Democratic council members Karen Koslowitz and Donovan Richards.
A fresh proposal, drafted with input from members of the city planning department, is scheduled for public hearing on Oct. 18, paving the way for a possible approval by the city council in November, said Ben Kallos, a councilman who is one of the applicants seeking rezoning.
“All along, this has been a race to the finish,” Kallos, the councilman, said in an interview. “I hope to vote on it as soon as possible. Communities want a say in how their neighborhoods are developed.”
There were and continue to be criticisms about the requirement that City Council members relinquish virtually all outside income. Some stemmed from concerns that an outright ban on outside income could discourage small business owners from running for office, according to Council Member Ben Kallos, who co-sponsored the legislation and chairs the governmental operations committee. The bill was tweaked to make allowances for passive income and would not force electeds to dissolve their business entities completely.
“It’s just what we could reasonably expect from people. So, if somebody has spent their career as a small business person, and brought that small business experience to the City Council, which can be invaluable…,” said Kallos. “After four years or eight years, [that person] could return to their community, and continue doing what they did to begin with.”
Rather than stripping a small number of elected officials of their non-governmental livelihoods, the goal was to ensure that Council members focus on their districts full-time, and to avoid any real or apparent conflicts of interest.
“It is a concern for me that someone with business before the city could hire a member of the City Council in the hopes of gaining influence,” said Kallos, who represents Manhattan’s 5th Council District.
Kallos said that before taking office in 2014, he personally retired from the practice of law in three states and dissolved LLCs for companies he had started. He said he is still in the process of dissolving several non-profits he created.
“All of them have had, literally had no business since I got elected. But, it can be a complicated and weird, long process,” he said.
While dissolving these entities is not required by the bill, Kallos said, “I felt that as the author of the law in question, I have to set a good example and go one step further than the law requires.”
Meanwhile, ERFA proposed its rezoning plan to limit the heights of buildings and create a new inclusionary housing zone that would allow developers to build up to 350 feet if they include affordable units in their projects. The proposal has garnered the support of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council members Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos and state Sen. Liz Krueger, but it has not yet received the crucial approval from City Planning.
Kallos, who helped co-found ERFA, said the group is made up of more than 2,000 people across 45 buildings in the area. The Council member said the rezoning effort is spurred by the fact that construction in his district is rampant and residents are seeing very little affordable housing created in the area.
"You can literally walk anywhere in my district and see one construction site from another construction site,” said Kallos, who told TRD that he wanted to step in to prevent “another 432 Park Avenue” from towering over the city. “People in my district are getting development fatigue.”
How New York City hopes to end the stigma associated with 'lunch shaming' by feeding every student for free
Giving out lunch based on this criterion has led to what some observers have branded as "lunch shaming." As a result, many kids chose to skip lunch to avoid bullying.
New York City Council member Ben Kallos knows that effect all too well. He grew up in the Upper East Side section of Manhattan, which is known to be very wealthy, and attended the Bronx High School of Science. However, he stood out among his classmates.
"Not only did I come from a single parent household, but a multi-generational household, which meant I was eligible for free or reduced lunch," Ben Kallos, NYC Council member told CNBC's "On the Money."
He added that every day his friends would go out and buy lunch instead of staying in the cafeteria. So he had to make a choice between friends and food.
"I would tell them I wasn't hungry, when the truth is, I was starving," Kallos said.
"Every single child will be treated the same. No one will have to worry if their family can afford it…and we'll actually be giving kids an even start to life," said Kallos.
UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — The Olympic-sized pool at Upper East Side fitness center Asphalt Green has reopened after a three-week project to install a new water filtration system, the center announced this week.
The 50-meter pool has serviced more than nine million New Yorkers since it opened in 1993, but was using its original water filters, a spokesman for Asphalt Green told Patch. Upper East Side City Councilman Ben Kallos secured more than $600,000 for new Neptune Benson Defender filters for the pool.
The new system will keep the pool cleaner and require less maintenance by filtering a whopping 2.6 million gallons of water per day, an Asphalt Green spokesman said.
New York City Council District 5 representative Ben Kallos first discovered news of Bauhouse’s planned development from a local resident while attending an Easter egg hunt in April 2015.
“Somebody in the neighborhood [said to me], ‘Did you know there is going to be a tower? Somebody wants to put up 1,000 feet here,’ ” Kallos told CO. “And I’m like, ‘You mean at 432 Park?’ They said, ‘No, [East] 58th Street and Sutton [Place].’ I said, ‘There’s no way. Is this an April Fool’s Day joke?’ ”
By January 2016, the ERFA—backed by Kallos and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer as well as State Senator Liz Krueger and Councilman Dan Garodnick—had formed and filed its first rezoning application with the Department of City Planning, looking to cap the height of the building and also secure a section of the residential development for affordable housing units.
This April, CO reported that Gamma had spent the previous few months demolishing the three tenement buildings that had previously occupied the site. The company is now prepared to go forward with the tower’s construction, according to Kalikow. But, the surrounding community, two years into a fight against super-tall neighboring commercial buildings, is determined to halt the project.
Brewer first met with Bauhouse to discuss the site, prior to Gamma taking it over and recalled, “We met with [Bauhouse], and I’ll admit I said, ‘This is an awfully tall building. Do you know what you’re doing?’ I think I said, ‘You have to be kidding me?’ ” she said.
Kallos, Krueger, Garodnick and a representative of Brewer met with Kalikow on May 11 to discuss controversies surrounding the site, including the community’s firm opposition and how steep a climb Gamma would have to complete the project.
“[We told them] we’re not Beninati: We know what we’re doing, and we’re building for New York buyers because this is a New York enclave,” Kalikow said. “They said, ‘We don’t care, it’s too high.’ ”
Kallos said that during the meeting, he flagged the height of the building and warned Kalikow that it might be in Gamma’s best interest to scale down the project to fit the neighborhood’s context or use its air rights elsewhere.
Kalikow interpreted that as a threat and that Kallos was “going to do something with these tenants to hurt us,” he said.
The councilman said he simply brought forth community concerns.
“I offered them options such as using their air rights in other parts of the city,” Kallos added. “We also talked to them about the fact that the rezoning we were proposing would actually give them additional floor area ratio on site—that wasn’t on site and already there—in order to build affordable housing. It was not a threat; it was a specific explanation of the fact that I had hoped that we could work together.”
One of the ways Kalikow believes Kallos followed through on what he thought was a “threat” was through the community’s increased use of 311 calls this past summer, specifically around the Fourth of July weekend, which invited greater scrutiny on the site. (The city must log and address each complaint as it relates to construction safety.)
“I am proud of it,” Kallos responded cheerfully to Kalikow’s accusation that he urged residents to call 311. “Every day I get complaints from residents about construction noise. Any person who is being bothered by construction at [the Sutton Place development] or at any site in my district, I ask them to call 311; I ask them to reach out to me personally. I’m proud.” (When asked about a stop-work order issued on June 28 by the New York City Department of Buildings, Kallos said, “I wish I could take credit for that stop-work order. The DOB was doing their job. It actually took us some time to figure out what happened.”)
Asphalt Green Installs New Eco-Friendly Filters in Olympic-Size Pool, With Support From City Council Member Ben Kallos
(New York, N.Y.) – New York City sports and fitness nonprofit Asphalt Greenreopened its Upper East Side Olympic-size swimming pool earlier this month, after a three-week shutdown to install new pool filters for the first time since it opened in 1993.
The eco-friendly, energy-efficient Neptune Benson Defender filters require less maintenance, and keep the water cleaner, filtering 2.6 million gallons per day. New York City Council Member Ben Kallos led the effort to secure City funding for the project, which cost $698,000.
“Council Member Kallos continues to be a valued supporter of Asphalt Green’s mission to help New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds live active, healthy lifestyles through sports and fitness,” said Maggy Siegel, Executive Director of Asphalt Green. “We are tremendously grateful for the Council’s funding for our new eco-friendly pool filters, which will make our water cleaner for the thousands of children and adults who use our pool each month.”
“Asphalt Green is one of my favorite places on the Upper East Side to exercise, and now it has likely the cleanest pool in all of New York City thanks to the new, state-of-the-art filters and renovation,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who provided $100,000 and advocated for an additional $513,000 from Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in discretionary funding for the improvements. “Asphalt Green is one of the unique neighborhood jewels that make the Upper East Side a special place to live, and that is why I am proud of the investment my office made to keep the facility running better than ever for residents and Olympians alike.”