When news came this month that Nanjing's mayor had been removed, Qiu Ziming, a reporter, was one of many local residents who lit fireworks along the streets in an impromptu celebration of his downfall.
The transgressions that earned such hostility towards the mayor, Ji Jianye, were his demolition and reconstruction projects across large swathes of the city, a move favoured by some mainland officials as a way to boost growth but unpopular among many residents. "Ji has done much damage to our city," Qiu said. "There have been so many complaints about him over the past years."
Qiu organised a protest in March 2011 when the mayor ordered dozens of sycamore trees cut down and thousands of them moved to make way for a subway project.
"Nanjing people have a deep emotional connection to the sycamore trees, which have been planted along major streets for decades and have become a symbol of the city's history," Qiu said.
Police had warned Qiu to back off with his protests. But the city government eventually dropped the tree-cutting plan as public resistance grew fierce.
The win was a small one amid the long list of Ji's projects.
Before taking over in Nanjing, Ji had gained a reputation in Yangzhou for rebuilding large parts of the city while mayor and party secretary in the eight years to 2009. The tactic earned him the nickname "Mayor Bulldozer".
Afterwards, he took his development model to Nanjing. He ordered Nanjing to tear up and rebuild a main road, even though it was only 16 years old and had been designed to last 50 years.
He also launched a massive, three-year sewerage project with a network of pipes spanning 20,000 hectares and costing 18.3 billion yuan (HK$23 billion).
"Both projects seriously disturbed city residents' daily life," Qiu said. "Nanjing, once peaceful and beautiful, has been turned into a chaotic construction site."
The sewage project was suspended a few days after Ji's removal.
Ji was placed under investigation for "suspected serious disciplinary violations", Xinhua said, using a term that typically refers to corruption.
But Zhang Lifan, a political affairs commentator in Beijing, said public discontent might have attracted the attention of the central government.
In the first eight months of this year, the city agency that handles pollution complaints received more than 16,000 reports from residents, one-third of all such complaints made throughout Jiangsu province.
It has become standard practice for mayors to embark on large-scale projects when they land in new territory. Through extensive reconstruction, mayors hope to create a place that can attract investment and increase the city's gross domestic product.
"Reconstruction is a major way for city mayors to drive up GDP, since the GDP figure remains an important measure of their political achievements," said Bai Zhili, an associate professor at Peking University's school of government.
Geng Yanbo, mayor of Taiyuan, started ambitious works in February when he was sworn in. Much of the city now seems to be under construction, and the roads have become increasingly congested.
A similar situation unfolded in places such as Wuhan in Hubei and Changchun in Jilin , when they were taken over by new mayors.
In Wuhan, 11,000 construction sites have appeared this year, while Changchun is pushing to complete five main avenues before winter. When residents complain about traffic congestion, construction noise and dust, officials tend to tell them to tolerate it for the sake of a better city.
State media have joined the criticism. "Most of our cities are still lagging behind European and American cities in terms of environment and infrastructure.
"But aggressive development puts undue pressure on people's lives, city finances and the environment," Xinhua said.
The news agency even linked the demolition-and-reconstruction model to official corruption. "Many fallen officials, including Li Chuncheng, Ni Fake and Ji Jianye, are notorious for their demolition and reconstruction. This should urge us to reflect," said another Xinhua editorial. Li, former deputy party head of Sichuan and Ni, former deputy governor of Anhui , are under investigation for corruption.
However, some scholars are sceptical that this development model will end soon.
"Only when local officials are elected by local residents, rather than appointed by administrative systems, can the masses take part in the decision-making on city development and avoid the vicious circle of demolition and reconstruction," said Bai, the associate professor.