Bloomberg and Avella were each elected to office in 2001, the Manhattan executive-turned-mayor, and the workaholic activist-turned-councilman from Queens. In the eight years since, the city has rezoned one-sixth of the total land in the five boroughs—more than the last six administrations combined—and the City Council has approved more than 80 total rezonings.
Many of these have been down-zonings, reducing the height of buildings in a given area, but the administration’s penchant for large-scale development projects has engendered a number of bitter fights across the five boroughs—from Atlantic Yards to East Harlem, and from Willets Point to the far West Side.
The City Council, as an unwritten rule, defers to the local council member on these projects, a system that makes most votes nearly unanimous, and often leaves Avella as one of only two regular dissenters (usually paired with Charles Barron, who represents a district in east Brooklyn). Avella’s willingness to reach out to dissenters in other districts has made him something of a pariah among his council colleagues, who recently voted against a minor rezoning in Avella’s district as punishment for his insubordination.
(Leading the charge on that vindictive little hissy fit was The Doorman, Eric Gioia.)