, Salem, MA

October 16, 2012

Letter: Vote no on the CPA in Salem

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

In regards to the CPA vote coming up in Salem, I would like to resubmit the facts that I dug up and presented in 2007.

First of all, there’s a nasty little secret to the CPA — one that none of its proponents will talk about, and one of which I’m sure some of those same proponents (eager to jump on the preservation bandwagon) don’t even know about because they don’t do the research.

The secret is this: Cities — such as Newton, Bedford, Westford and Yarmouth — have used CPA funds to “buy down” homes and condos for affordable housing. This is done by doing a soft-second mortgage for a low-income buyer.

Once a home or condo unit is designated as affordable housing, a rider is attached to the deed that keeps that designation forever. Even if CPA is repealed. Your neighborhood or condo building is changed — forever.


You own a two- or three-unit historic property and apply for CPA funds for restoration work. The city can demand that a unit in that building is reserved for low-income housing. This free money has a cost. Your property value has just taken a nose dive.

A unit in your condo building goes up for sale. CPA funds can be used for a low-income “buy down.” Remember that deed rider? Every unit in your building has an immediate decrease in value and will never, ever recover.

Developers love it because they can now get money from the city under the Chapter 40B act and CPA! They can make a fortune in revenue! And we neighborhood home and condo owners lose.

As you can imagine, this would mean even further disaster for our already-suffering property values — for me, for you, for sons and daughters, parents, friends, etc. At a time when so many of us are underwater with mortgages, this will just put a red-stamp guarantee that we’ll never get out from under.

Yes, the CPA is a blatant end-run around Proposition 21/2, and, as you can see, it is potentially so much worse. The cost is much, much more than an annual increase of $40.

Just visit the CPA website in the Community Initiatives section for a lot of stories about what they deem “creative ways” the CPA has been used. Mind you, this is a website that is for the CPA. I read the way the funds were used. I was pleased with some and horrified by a lot!

I recall a meeting back in 2007 when I raised these issues. I was basically told to hush up. “Oh, that’s Newton,” they said, “that won’t happen here.”

I am very much in favor of preservation of our historical treasures here in Salem. There’s no city that matches our beauty. I’m also in favor of improving our parks and playgrounds. But there are lots of ways to do these without jeopardizing the value of the very homes we live in.

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that if a government can, they will. Therefore, let’s not let it happen here. Vote no on the CPA.

Sharon Smith