Ever rising house prices might be great for the Community Preservation Fund, but not so for the community.
There is no doubt that the CPF has been enormously successful in preserving land and cleaning water. But can the same be said for preserving communities?
According to Sunday’s New York Times, we now live in that place “Where Prices Meet the Sky”: “‘For those who are already struggling to find anything affordable, it has only gotten harder,’ said Jay Schneiderman, the supervisor of Southampton Town, counting teachers and nurses among those consigned to a longer commute to get to work in the Hamptons. ‘The entire workforce is priced out.’”
“… On the upside, revenues from a 2 percent preservation tax on Southampton home sales of $250,000 or more are up 40 percent over last year, Mr. Schneiderman said. … ‘It has been very successful in terms of preserving our rural character,’ he said.”
It’s ironic that the ever rising house prices that are great for the CPF are disastrous for the community it serves.
Communities are people — teachers, nurses, cops, mechanics, musicians, artists, poets, retail workers, chefs, waiters, farmers, landscapers, bakers, bartenders, carpenters, roofers, plumbers, painters, electricians, the myriad professions and trades necessary to keep our communities operating, not to mention our volunteer firefighters and ambulance personnel who are at the very core of our sustainability.
Our community is in desperate need of preservation through the availability of affordable housing. What will become of our families, our daughters and our sons?
Only a regional solution will work. Sag Harbor is too small to be effective, and Suffolk County too big. But the five towns of the Peconic Bay region would work very well. These are the five towns — East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold — that participate in the CPF.
In addition to revisiting the commendable 2019 legislation by Kenneth LaValle and Fred Thiele, vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, that would have authorized the five East End towns to establish affordable housing funds financed by a new real estate transfer tax of 0.5 percent, we should allocate a percentage of the existing fund to affordable housing, up to 40 percent. In 2016, voters on the East End allocated 20 percent of the CPF for clean water projects. We didn’t need the governor’s approval for that.
This crisis has been well over a decade in the making, and COVID has changed the world since 2019. Property prices are “Meeting the Sky,” and the CPF is up 40 percent. Within a decade we will be dealing with an existential crisis, if not before.
The time to act is now. Forty percent land, 40 percent housing, 20 percent water. Everyone is important.
Mr. Corish is a Sag Harbor Village Board member who is seeking reelection — Ed.
One fine body…