Larry Kosmont, CRE, is President and CEO of Kosmont Companies—a real estate, finance, and economic development advisory firm specializing in public-private partnerships. He has advised numerous municipalities, as well as serving in local government himself in the Southern California region. The Planning Report talked with Kosmont about tools for creating economic development in California without redevelopment agencies, focusing on the potential impacts of publically owned properties and special districts in accomplishing redevelopment goals, as well as the challenges to such approaches.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed ABx1 26 into law in 2011, amending the California Community Redevelopment Law to address the state’s budget deficit. The bill dissolved all California redevelopment agencies and prevented RDAs from engaging in new activities while outlining a process for winding down the RDA’s financial affairs. It also outlined a process for distributing funds from the former redevelopment agencies to other local taxing entities, such as school districts. Since then, urban planners, real estate leaders, and those involved in economic development have struggled to come up with new tools for cities and developers to use to channel new urban development. As Kosmont notes, "when we had tax increment and redevelopment, we had a power tool, and now that we don’t, we’re down to hand tools. It’s not like we can’t figure out how to do it. It just takes longer, it’s riskier, more complicated, and overall not quite as specifically effective."