Debbie Kern

Managing Principal

Debbie Kern is the Managing Principal of Keyser Marston Associates’ Northern California office. She has over 35 years of experience in real estate consulting and specializes in infrastructure finance, real estate advisory, land use economics, and affordable housing.



Assists public agencies in formation of tax increment financing (TIF) districts and assembles an array of financing tools to provide financing for large, multi-phased projects with extensive infrastructure, public facilities, and affordable housing needs.  The tools that we commonly combine with TIF districts include Community Facility Districts (CFDs), impact fees, property taxes in-lieu of VLF revenues, new market tax credits, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.  Typical services include evaluating the assessed value of future development, estimating the fiscal impacts of the proposed development on the sponsoring city or county, evaluating the overall financing plan for the new development, and preparing the Infrastructure Financing Plan (IFP) for the formation of the EIFD.  The financing districts are often one component of an array of funding sources.  Recent projects include:

  • City of San Francisco – Potrero Power Station EIFD
  • County of Sacramento – Metro Airpark EIFD
  • City of San Francisco – Treasure Island IRFD

Real Estate Advisory

Assists public agencies throughout the State on a variety of real estate issues, including setting rental rates for properties, identifying strategies for redeveloping properties, negotiating assistance for a key project, evaluating the fiscal and economic impacts of a proposed development project, or structuring the terms for a public/private partnership.  Recent projects include:

  • Port of San Francisco – Establishing a schedule of parameter rents for the Port’s portfolio of office and industrial properties and concessions
  • City of Marina – Assisting in negotiations of business terms for the sale of property for hotel development and City assistance
  • City of El Cerrito – Evaluating alternative funding sources for the development of a public library
  • Port of  San Francisco – Assisting with developer selection and negotiation of lease terms for the redevelopment of Piers 30/32, and evaluating the potential fiscal and economic impacts to be generated by the project

Land Use Economics

Participates in multidisciplinary teams to identify a land use plan for properties within a proposed Specific Plan area.  Services include:  reviewing market conditions, evaluating the financial feasibility and fiscal impacts of a range of land uses, and developing a financing strategy for funding needed public infrastructure.  Recent projects include:

  • Dyett & Bhatia / County of Sonoma – Specific Plan for the Sonoma Development Center
  • City of Dublin – Mixed-Use Concept Plan for key development site
  • City of Brisbane – Specific Plan for the Brisbane Baylands

Affordable Housing

Assists public agencies in achieving their affordable housing goals through advising on the development of new affordable units.   The context of the work ranges from selecting a developer for a surplus site under the requirements of the Surplus Lands Act, to negotiating terms for the inclusion of affordable units within a market rate project or negotiating the terms for the provision of financial assistance for the development of an affordable housing project.  Recent projects include:

  • City of Rocklin – Selecting a non-profit developer for a surplus lands site and negotiating business terms
  • City of Larkspur – Testing the financial feasibility of inclusionary housing as part of Housing Element update
  • City of San Jose – Reviewing affordable housing developer applications for local funding

Hobbies and Interests

Debbie enjoys traveling, biking and cooking.

Professional Credentials

  • Master’s in Economics, Columbia University
  • B.A. in Economics, University of California, Berkeley
  • California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) – Member of Economic Development Finance and Real Estate Committee
  • League of California Cities and CALED conferences – Speaker
  • CALED’s Advanced Institute for Economic Development – Instructor