Calling for the ouster of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council member Tony Avella faced reporters from the Community Newspaper Group last week to make his case for being the next mayor.
Avella, who represents the northeast section of Queens, is perhaps best known to Brooklynites as being an outspoken opponent of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards Project at the Flatbush/Atlantic avenues intersection moving southeast, and the Dock Street project in DUMBO.
Additionally, Avella recently voted against the recent Bloomberg rezoning plan for Coney Island, and restated his cry that real estate developers have all but taken over the city.
“The revolution starts now for community-based planning. Just because we’ve done something for decades doesn’t make it right,” said Avella. “People feel left out in their own community.”
In regards to the Atlantic Yards project, Avella said it is too dense for the area and overburdens the current traffic and infrastructure in the area.
The community should be given the power to plan in their own neighborhood, and when they are given the power to plan they generally do the right thing, he said
Avella said a model for this type of development is done successfully in Seattle, where the city sets parameters for certain needs like a sanitation garage, but then lets the local neighborhoods do the planning. The planning could be done through the community boards, he said.
While the city thrives on major development, their projects should be an asset to the community so as not to destroy the charm of a neighborhood.
“We can have balance, but the pendulum has swung too far in favor of the developers and it now must swing back. There is room for both,” he said.
Avella said he was against the Dock Street DUMBO project because it blocked the view of the Brooklyn Bridge and remains against the Coney Island rezoning because it doesn’t do enough to save the historic amusement district.
It also isn’t fair to ask the community to come up with an alternative right away as they don’t have the resources that the city has to create new zoning plans, he said, adding that as mayor he would give the community boards the tools to create their own plans.
“The game plan is to tell the real estate industry your days of controlling are overand to meet with the people and come up with real solutions,” he said.
While Avella admitted that crime remains down in the city, he questioned police statistics, and said he has heard rumors that felony crimes are being classified as misdemeanors to keep crime down.
Avella also said as mayor he would bring back more community policing so that cops would get to better know citizens in their neighborhoods.
He also said he would remove the commissioners of Transportation, Buildings and Consumer Affairs for not being accountable to the people or their department.
Regarding federal stimulus money, Avella said it should go to projects that employ local people and stimulate the local economy.
The money should also go towards those facing foreclosures to keep them in their homes and not to the banks .
“I question if that money will go back to the people, “ he said.