Avella pushes for nabe-based planning

Mayoral candidate Tony Avella at sit-down interview with Community Newspaper Group on Monday, August 24.

Mayoral candidate Tony Avella let fly at incumbent Michael Bloomberg at a sit-down interview with Community Newspaper Group reporters on Monday, August 24.

The Queens councilman, who represents Bayside and Whitestone, blasted Bloomberg on city planning, tickets and crime statistics.

Avella has endorsed a bottom-up approach to city planning; Bloomberg and Department of City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden plan top-down, he said. The two-term Democrat cited Atlantic Yards as a primary example. The city and the developer need to listen to the Downtown Brooklyn community, Avella said.

Avella has proposed that the city turn city planning duties over to community members and city-paid land use lawyers. The bottom-up approach has worked in Seattle, he said. There’s the risk that a community will argue “not in my backyard” when the city needs to build a sanitation garage or an asphalt plant. Avella has faith in people.

“When you give people real power, they generally do the right thing,” he said. “We need to fix planning in the city. We don’t do planning. We do knee-jerk reactions to developers. It has to stop.”

Avella is for development, unless it destroys the character of an existing neighborhood, he said. The 57-year old called the Department of Buildings a disgrace. If elected as mayor, Avella will fire DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. He dislikes the pedestrian plazas recently installed at Times Square.

He would consider retaining Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly but thinks Bloomberg and Kelly have under-reported crime statistics. Avella thinks the city misses the “cop on the beat.”

Tickets are a hot-button issue for motorists and small business owners. The Bloomberg administration is engaged in “overzealous enforcement,” Avella said.

“We shouldn’t use tickets as a revenue source,” he said. “That’s what Bloomberg is doing. There’s an unwritten quota. That won’t be the case in an Avella administration.”

Avella chairs the City Council zoning committee and recently voted for a rezone of the Lower Concourse, he said. Whether the rezone will better the south Bronx, Avella isn’t sure. In Greenpoint, a similar rezone pushed manufacturing businesses out; it led to luxury condos – overdevelopment, he said.

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