CPA Point and Counterpoint

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We take a break from our usual self-promotion, to promote another think tank’s work — the Rappaport Institute has authored a study on the Community Preservation Act that has several major findings: 1) the CPA transfers funds from poor urban communities to affluent ones, particular to Middlesex County and the Cape, 2) it does not seem to promote affordable housing very effectively (particularly relative to open space), and 3) there’s not enough data on what the funds are being used for.

The authors of the study make their case in this Globe op-ed. And are rebutted in this Globe op-ed.

Both sides seem to agree that some reform is needed. They agree on the need for better data. The Rappaport folks suggest a hard cap for each community and a bar on inter-county transfers of funds, plus greater emphasis on affordable housing where its needed. The other side suggests broadening the local options for matching revenue, in order to get more communities to join the program.

This space is skeptical of the Ginsu-like nature of the program: it creates affordable housing! preserves open space! incentivizes historical preservation! It cannot cut a beer can in half, however.

We are also leery of the basis for the revenues in the CPA — higher property taxes and higher fees.