I've heard this about Menino before- is there any literature that fleshed out the idea that Menino was anti-development?
There's a few books I've read that talk about Boston's development patterns and some political influences... not necessarily anything that explicitly states "Menino was anti-development," but contextually they illustrate city's historic development patterns, development during Menino years, and (filling in the blanks with content from ArchBoston) development post-Menino.
Boston's Back Bay: The Story of America's Greatest Nineteenth-Century Landfill Project.
by William A. Newman and Wilfred E. Holton (2006)
The Hub's Metropolis: Greater Boston's Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth.
James C. O'Connell. (2012)
The Heart of the City: Creating Vibrant Downtowns for a New Century.
Alexander Garvin (2019)
I don't think Menino was 'anti-development' per se; however, I think it's clear that he and some staff under his eye could've made certain decisions under his watch that would've enabled more development to happen in Boston than did during the Menino years. To curcuas' point, Menino did make it hard to build anything. For example, in grad school I had the weird opportunity to interview longtime BRA Director of Planning Kairos Shen (weeks before he was very publicly fired from the agency in 2015). He spoke very candidly about how the office and how the city worked to
extract as much value as possible from new development--taxable value, community amenities, new jobs, etc.--and how that level of oversight often meant that the City is a lot more critical about new development than you might see in other places. Specifically the city was incentivized not
to change zoning code for larger development as-of-right because it means the city holds onto those bargaining chips with developers needing to apply for a variance. The obvious downside of this is that it artificially inflates the cost of building anything new in Boston, but the oft-ignored upside is that this strategy enriched the City's coffers with many more dollars/resources necessary for overall governance. Despite COVID-19, Boston's tax base has proven more resilient than almost any major US city because of how much it leverages from property tax value rather than fees, special taxes, PILOTs, and other means.
Although I think City development policy hasn't changed that much since Menino was Mayor, I do think Imagine Boston 2030 was a major step in the right direction for zeroing in on development goals and how to achieve them... it was the city's first master plan in 50 years.