When I promised to clean up, I was focused on corruption in government, but that didn't stop us from putting a new large covered trash can on every corner or power washing our sidewalks. We've opened supportive housing to help the homeless.
- A New Trash Can on Every Corner
- Power Washing the Neighborhood Block by Block with Wildcat
- Helping the Homeless and Opening Supportive Housing
- Scaffolding Legislation Adopted
- Improved Quality of Life Enforcement
- Fighting the Marine Transfer Station
- Retirement Security for All
A New Trash Can on Every Corner
We have cleaned 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 back in 2017. These new cans supplement the 38 I purchased in 2016 with $20,710 in initial 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.
In fiscal years 2019 and 2020, my office allocated an additional $152,375 to replace missing and damaged trash cans and to ensure every street corner in my district that needed a trash can received one. I promised to replace every small wire trash can with a new large trash can, so if you still see the wire cans in your part of the neighborhood please request your new large trash can by emailing me at BKallos@BenKallos.com.
Power Washing the Neighborhood Block by Block with Wildcat
We are power washing the neighborhood block by block with Wildcat Cleaning services. Starting with East 86th, 79th, 72nd Streets and even Second Avenue. I even rolled up my sleeves and took the opportunity to lead the power washing crews at a few of the sites to help get the job done.
As part of our cleanup initiative, we have been able to win twice a day garbage pick up from the Department of Sanitation in areas that need it. We have bought hundreds of new domed trash cans to keep the streets litter-free. We also continued to work with Wildcat as they swept up streets, tree pits, and bike islands. They have been able to successfully remove old plastic bags that were stuck in tree branches.
Part of my plan to keep the neighborhood clean involves starting a Business Improvement District (BID) along the East 86th Street business corridor. This would mean that parts of the district near 86th Street would get more needed attention and help with cleaning. Our work to get the BID continues as area businesses join the list of participants. Learn more at BenKallos.com/bid
To have your street power washed, contact our office at BKallos@BenKallos.com and for more information on our cleanup initiative, visit BenKallos.com/cleanup
Helping the Homeless and Opening Supportive Housing
The City’s homelessness crisis continues with 55,000 homeless as mid-July. The faces of our homeless crisis are 18,918 are children, 14,195 parents, 12,933 single men, and 4,481 single women. In 2016, I launched the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) with Borough President Brewer, Senator Krueger, Department of Social Services (DSS), community and faith leaders and service organizations.
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.
One of the best ways we can take on the homeless crisis is by building supportive housing. That's why we supported WIN in the construction and opening of 17 apartments on East 91st Street across the street from where I live. In 2018 I also had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon on an 11-units of supportive housing at the Howard Amron House operated by Urban Pathways. Learn more about Urban Pathways and the new WIN facility from the release, or watch the ribbon cutting, or read coverage in Patch.
For more information on ETHOS, visit BenKallos.com/homeless
Scaffolding Legislation Adopted
In 2019, The New York Times reported on the shocking 1,400 buildings around the City with sidewalk sheds that aren't up because of ongoing construction but because they have failed to fix façade issues for which the Department of Buildings has issued a whopping $31 million in violations that have gone unpaid.
Since I was elected we've been working to pass legislation I authored to force landlords to make repairs and get sidewalk sheds down as well as force the city to inspect every sidewalk shed so they never fall on anyone else. In 2017, the City Council held a public hearing on my original scaffolding bill (Int 1389). This hearing was a pivotal step in getting the City to reform the laws governing the use of scaffolding. Under my bill, which is still undergoing changes and updates, landlords would have up to 90 days to fix dangerous facade conditions and an additional 90 days for owners to fix dangerous conditions upon extension. After the 180 days, the city would step in to do the work to correct the dangerous condition and bill the owner for all the costs. For more information on the bill see coverage in The New York Times, PIX11, FOX 5, New York 1.
In 2019, after the death of a pedestrian in midtown due to a falling piece of a building, Fox 5 covered my criticism of the fact that we are still inspecting building facades with centuries' old techniques such as binoculars, telescopes, and even feeling bricks with our hands. As reported by Fox 5 and the New York Post, this led to the City Council hearing legislation that I am co-prime sponsor of which would study the use of drones for facade inspections.
In December of 2019, the Department of Buildings adopted many many of the reforms I have been pushing for when it announced facade inspection reforms doubling their façade inspection team staff, adding more frequent and thorough inspections of buildings, and following my legislative proposal for the city to make repairs and bill the owner for the most hazardous conditions. You can read more in Crain's New York and The City.
As reported by ABC 7, my legislation which I continue to push would regulate how our City is using scaffolding. It would also make sure that the nearly 350 miles of scaffolding covering New York City's sidewalks are safe and not at risk of falling. As reported by New York Daily News and Gothamist under the current laws, scaffolding is self-certified for safety by the contractors who install it, without any independent inspection by the city’s Department of Buildings. Under my legislation, scaffolding would be required to undergo safety inspections by the Buildings Department every six months at the expense of the building owner with fees escalating to incentivize the scaffolding to go down.
Improved Quality of Life Enforcement
As reported by the Daily News more than $1.6 billion in quality of life violations are in the process of being collected by the City after legislation I introduced became law and went into effect. 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 the Department of Finance to pay any outstanding violations without penalties or interest. This new law ensures that bad actors change their behavior or face the consequence of losing their license. For more information read the release at BenKallos.com/Press-Releases
Fighting the Marine Transfer Station
Over the past six years, we have stood our ground against the Mayor and his Marine Transfer Station (MTS), and we have won several concessions for our community.
The administration has promised that zoned trash pickup will not be tied to dumping at the MTS, we won funding for guardrails on every truck and even won a commitment to zero waste, which will make Marine Transfer-to-landfill obsolete by 2030. A new ramp will be constructed one block north at the request of Pledge2Protect and Asphalt Green to protect children playing on their soccer fields.
In 2018 prior to opening, as Our Town reported, the Department of Sanitation agreed to an “average of 40 to 50 trucks per day” instead of the over 200 trucks a day that were once feared. Our neighborhood saw such a dramatic reduction because we are producing 25% less landfill than a decade ago through reduction and diversion. My opposition to this facility remains steadfast because a garbage dump does not belong in a residential neighborhood. Join the fight at BenKallos.com/MTS
Retirement Security for All
Every New Yorker deserves the right to retire, but two-thirds of workers aren’t participating in retirement plans, largely because their employer doesn’t offer one. As reported by ABC 7 and the New York Daily News, I rallied with Mayor de Blasio and Council Member I. Daneek Miller at City Hall in support of Introduction 888-A. This legislation, which I authored, would automatically enroll New York City residents to volunteer into a retirement savings program through their private-sector jobs, if their employer does not offer a retirement savings plan. As reported by WCBS 880, the program would be administered by the City of New York and would not cost anything for businesses to run. By default, residents would see 3% of their paycheck deducted, and they could change that rate or opt-out entirely at any time. However, automatic enrollment has been shown to encourage individuals to save more.
Following the rally, dozens of supporters from AARP crowded into the City Council Chambers to testify in support of this legislation. I have been fighting to implement a plan like this since before I was an elected official. I helped craft the Retirement Security for All platform for Bill Samuels’ EffectiveNY when I was the executive director of the good government and policy group. In the Council, I first announced this plan with the Mayor back in February of 2016, with the support of Public Advocate Tish James. However, when Trump entered the White House, his chief advisor Steve Bannon made it his top priority to fight plans like ours. The U.S. House passed and the President signed Joint Resolutions 66 and 67 to roll back the Obama Administration’s regulations intended to make it easier for states and municipalities to offer retirement savings plans. But they didn’t make it illegal. Now we are working to make the plan a reality.
Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for taking this issue on earlier this year and working to get it passed into law. For more information read my op-ed in Crain's New York and coverage from Gotham Gazette.