About Ben Kallos

Endorsed by The New York Times for his “fresh ideas” and elected in 2013, Ben Kallos represent the East Side and Roosevelt Island in the City Council. He grew up in the neighborhood with his grandparents who fled anti-Semitism in Europe and his mother who still lives here.

Won 400 universal Pre-Kindergarten seats for the district and invested millions for STEM (Science, Technology & Math) in public schools.

Authored laws to prohibit outside income, limit influence of lobbyists and eliminate “legal bribery”; and investigated the Rivington nursing home scandal.

Secured more than $150 million to rehabilitate and expand the East River Esplanade with Congressmember Maloney.

Helped open the 2nd Avenue Subway on-time with Governor Cuomo, secured three East Side ferry stops, added off-board payment to M79 and M86, and won 79 new buses for the M15.

Won two consecutive rent freezes for 1.1 million rent-stabilized tenants and passed Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.

Purchased 300 new trash cans to keep more than 100 intersections clean and litter free.

Exposed high costs, moved the ramp, and limited to only using one-third of capacity to keep 300 trucks off our roads—let’s dump the dump.

Stop Super-Scrapers

Please preserve our community so that everyone can keep their right to light and air by rezoning our neighborhood to maintain density but preserving context by replacing R10 that allows buildings of unlimited height with a contextual height cap of 210 feet, through R10A or R10X, the tallest height caps allowed under residential zoning.


Press Coverage
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 Release

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

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
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
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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Press Coverage
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.”

The city rules allow a building to continue construction after a zoning change only if the foundation was complete. Sutton 58’s foundation work was 95% finished, and would have been done in about 10 days, Mr. Kalikow said.

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Press Coverage
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 Coverage
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

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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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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