Queens native picked to run Department of Buildings while construction booms citywide

La Rocca
Courtesy of School Construction Authority

A Queens woman has been appointed to run the city’s Department of Buildings.

Mayor Bill de Blasio named Melanie La Rocca as commissioner of the DOB, which regulates the city’s real estate and construction industries and enforces the agency’s laws to protect tenants from construction harassment.

La Rocca, who grew up in Flushing and currently lives in Astoria, said she will intensify efforts to ensure the safety of construction workers.

“As a lifelong New Yorker, I understand how the construction industry plays a key role in ensuring New Yorker City adapts to the changing needs of our business and local communities,” La Rocca said. “I know first-hand what it takes to deliver a high-quality project in a fast-paced environment. And I understand the need to connect with all stakeholders, especially with members of the community.”

La Rocca currently serves as vice president of the city’s School Construction Authority, where she oversees the Real Estate Group and all site development, as well as Design and Construction Services. In this role she works closely with key stakeholders, including DOB, and other groups within the construction industry, to identify potential school sites and develop new schools and facilities.

“I could not think of a better person to oversee the Department of Buildings than Melanie La Rocca,” Councilman Costa Constantinides said. “From her time as a City Council staffer through her amazing tenure at the SCA, she has been a model public servant who makes government run for the people. In western Queens, she was instrumental in getting hydroponic science labs into almost everyone of our Council District’s schools in a timely fashion and was vital in getting transportable classroom units out of our schoolyards.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm called the La Rocca appointment welcome news for the city.

La Rocca dedicated years to public service and enjoys an excellent track record,” Dromm said. “She and I have worked closely together to build new schools in Queens, thereby ensuring that young people in the borough receive a quality education. Our city has benefitted from La Rocca’s leadership and I am confident that the DOB will also thrive with her at the helm.”

Councilman Paul Vallone, the chair of the Committee on Economic Development, said her stellar leadership has already left a stellar impact on the city.

“Her strong skill set cuts through bureaucratic red tape and she is the right person to lead an agency that interacts with one of New York City’s largest industries,” Vallone said.

Prior to joining the SCA, La Rocca served as Chief of Staff to Christine Quinn, former Speaker of the City Council.

“Melanie La Rocca has been training for this position her entire career,” Quinn said. “She has been an advocate for communities when developers have gone awry and a force for balanced and appropriate planning. She is one of the most competent and dynamic people I know. She will raise the voices of our neighborhoods at DOB like never before, and she will increase effectiveness and speed in DOB which is critical to our partners in real estate. I couldn’t have picked a better person myself.”

The mayor chose La Rocca to run the agency while there is a new push for construction site safety across the city.

“Construction workers are the backbone of our growing city, and the Department of Buildings is the city’s frontline defense to ensure safety on every job site,” de Blasio said. “I am confident that Melanie La Rocca’s experience and strong ties in our community will ensure she continues strengthening the Department’s role as an agency that looks out for the safety of all New Yorkers.”