Paul McMorrow | Boston Globe

FOR THE past 20 years, development in Boston has happened in a disjointed, unpredictable manner. Mayor Marty Walsh took office promising to smooth out construction approvals for both developers and residents. Boston has a lot of catching up to do on this front, and Walsh’s team should start by looking outside City Hall. Here are four good ideas from other cities that Boston planners should steal.

■ Make upzoning easy. Boston isn’t Houston. It can’t grow by loosening its belt and spilling outward. If Boston is going to keep growing, that growth will have to come around subway nodes. Transit enables developers to build far more densely than they would be able to in, say, West Roxbury. But for every Jackson Square or Downtown Crossing, where developers have successfully harnessed subway access to launch transformative housing developments, there’s an Andrew Square or a Forest Hills or a North Station, where residents have pushed for development parameters that minimize or ignore the subway stop next door.

Chicago successfully linked transit to development across the city in one swoop. Chicago’s transit-oriented zoning gives automatic height and density bonuses to new developments close to any subway stop. The zoning bonuses reward larger developments on main streets, and limit incursions onto smaller side streets. And by kicking in automatically, upzoning around transit means that the easiest building to construct is the type of building the city most wants to promote. Read more