Boston: Yes on 5 Could Mean More Housing, Parks, and Historic Resources | Conservation Law Foundation

Boston: Yes on 5 Could Mean More Housing, Parks, and Historic Resources

Deanna Moran | @demoran18


The hype for November 8 revolves primarily around the Presidential Election, but for Bostonians, Election Day also means you get to cast a vote on important local issues that could directly impact you and your neighborhood. One such issue is The Community Preservation Act (CPA), which will be question 5 on this year’s ballot.

CPA is a tool that cities and towns in Massachusetts can use to preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities.

Massachusetts passed the CPA in 2000 and established a statewide Trust Fund to help pay for projects undertaken by local communities. Even though the law passed at the state level, each city and town needs to pass CPA locally in order to access funds. So far, nearly half of all Massachusetts communities – 160 in total – have passed the Act  and more than 4,000 projects have been completed using CPA funds.

This year, Boston has the opportunity to join other towns and cities in Massachusetts in accessing dedicated funding for community projects – generating housing, jobs, and numerous other public benefits. CPA could be a dream-come-true for cash-strapped local government agencies that have limited funding available for things like parks and recreation and affordable housing development.

Here’s what you need to know about CPA in Boston:

  • The funds will come from a small (1 %) surcharge on property taxes (matched by state funding) and allows exemptions for low- and moderate-income residents and senior citizens
  • The average cost to a single-family homeowner would be about $24 – the majority of the money would be raised from big office towers
  • The City of Boston has an online calculator that allows you to type in your address and see how you would be affected by the surcharge.
  • Anyone can apply for CPA funds as long as the proposed project will create new affordable housing, restore and preserve historic resources, or develop and improve outdoor recreational space.
  • Millions of dollars would be generated for local community projects that will help to enhance community fabric and improve quality of life for Boston residents.
  • At least 10% of the funds are required to go to each of the three core areas: affordable housing, historic resources, open space and parks. The remaining 70% can be used for any of these areas.
  • Funding distribution is clear and transparent – there is even an online database where you can see current and past projects in cities and towns around the state, along with the amount of money spent on each.

Dedicated funding for open space is particularly important for coastal communities like Boston. In an era of climate change – with rising seas, higher tides, and more intense and extreme storms – funding for more open space in the city can help buffer against current and future flood impacts. CPA can also be used for green infrastructure projects, which will help absorb excess rainfall before it drains into waterways and provide shady green spaces to reduce summertime heat.

What Can You Do About It?  VOTE YES ON 5

Passing CPA in Boston is up to the voters! CPA will be question 5 on the ballot.

When: November 8, 2016 is Election Day but the early voting period is from October 24 through November 4. Voters can mail ballots to the Elections Department or vote at an early voting location (see the City of Boston website for locations and times).

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