CPA: an Overview

CPA is a smart growth tool that helps communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities. CPA also helps strengthen the state and local economies by expanding housing opportunities and construction jobs for the Commonwealth's workforce, and by supporting the tourism industry through preservation of the Commonwealth’s historic and natural resources.

Over a decade of work went into the creation of the CPA; it was ultimately signed into law by Governor Paul Cellucci and Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift on September 14, 2000. Read more about the history of CPA.

CPA allows communities to create a local Community Preservation Fund for open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing and outdoor recreation. Community preservation monies are raised locally through the imposition of a surcharge of not more than 3% of the tax levy against real property, and municipalities must adopt CPA by ballot referendum. View a map of all CPA communities, or learn more about CPA adoption.

The CPA statute also creates a statewide Community Preservation Trust Fund, administered by the Department of Revenue (DOR), which provides distributions each year to communities that have adopted CPA. These annual disbursements serve as an incentive for communities to pass CPA. Learn more about the distribution amounts received to date by CPA communities.

Each CPA community creates a local Community Preservation Committee (CPC) upon adoption of the Act, and this five-to-nine member board makes recommendations on CPA projects to the community’s legislative body. To explore CPA projects completed to date, visit our CPA Projects Database.

Property taxes traditionally fund the day-to-day operating needs of safety, health, schools, roads, maintenance, and more. But until CPA was enacted, there was no steady funding source for preserving and improving a community's character and quality of life. The Community Preservation Act gives a community the funds needed to control its future.

CPA Accomplishments To-Date

  • 155 communities have adopted CPA (44% of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns)
  • Close to $1.2 billion has been raised to date for community preservation funding statewide
  • Over 6,600 projects approved 
  • Over 7,300 affordable housing units have been created or supported
  • Nearly 19,200 acres of open space have been preserved
  • Over 3,200 appropriations have been made for historic preservation projects
  • Nearly 1,000 outdoor recreation projects have been initiated