Will I will Lose Government Clients Because of My Research? Probably.

Today, Gerry Lederer, a respected wireless attorney at the government law firm of Best Best and Krieger, commented on Facebook regarding my thesis defense slides.  He asked several appropriate and very probing questions.  With his kind permission, I quote his comments and questions here along with my reply.  I’ve cleaned up a few bits of the text for readability.

Gerry Lederer: I read [your thesis defense slides] and they are brilliant. How long did it take for the professors to keep up to you? I know I had to read them a couple times. By the way, [your] GPA was rather ridiculous. Not sure I would have had the guts to publish my grades at the beginning of the process. Do you fear than any of the slides will be used against you in future proceedings? Or have some of the community groups questioned your outlook as to whether or not their homes’ values are impacted by the presence of a cell tower?

My response:

Jonathan Kramer: Gerry, old friend, I deeply appreciate your questions/comments.

I made a decision at the beginning of this journey that I would be transparent as a student and [as] a researcher. On the wise counsel of my program inspiration and chief supporter, Professor Neenah Estrella-Luna, I started my personal blog, JonathanKramer.com to make that goal a reality.

I knew that posting my thoughts and my grades would risk [negative] public exposure, and they already have. I have had to answer questions about my research from several of the jurisdictions I serve, sometimes in response to resident complaints that I am biased. Each time I have been charged, I have unreservedly agreed with the charges of bias: I am biased to discovering [actual] facts, rather than simply accepting assertions as facts. In fact (pun intended), I am currently responding to a new set of resident assertions in one of my client jurisdictions and I will respond the same way: look to the facts, not to the fears, to find the truth.

I have been fully prepared for years to lose clients for political reasons [over my research and findings]. [It’s] a worthy trade for gaining knowledge for the public. I expect to lose at least two or three major government clients within the first few months following publication of my full thesis, and that will not diminish my life by a single iota (Matthew 5:18*).

This doctorate has only whet my appetite to do more and deeper research in the same [subject matter] area. I have the great fortune to have the intellectual honesty to follow where the facts lead without fearing who will be offended. Maybe I can convince Northeastern University College of Professional Studies to let me do post-Doc research to better see where those facts lead.

jlk

* Huh? I’m quoting the New Testament? Sure. Have to cite research sources. jlk

I stand by what I said in reply to Gerry’s query.  Even if the truth is unpleasant to some, I’ll take transparency and honesty even when the results are surprising,  uncomfortable, or unprofitable.

jlk

 

 

 

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Dr. Jonathan Louis Kramer, DLP

Dr. Jonathan Louis Kramer, DLP

I’m very pleased (and relieved) to report that this morning I successfully defended my doctoral thesis, “Cell Towers, Community Perspectives, and Hedonic Price Modeling: Utility, Limitations, and Localism.”

It was wonderful the be greeted with, “Congratulations, Doctor Kramer” when the three thesis committee members came back from their private discussions after my defense.

Thanks to all of you for your support of me along this path, and for those of you who were able to join in the defense today by video link.  If you would like to see the slides I used this morning for the defense, I’ve posted them here in PDF format.  The animations would show, but you’ll get the idea.

(Note: the slides linked below contain non-substantive corrections made as of 9/3/16.  An errata sheet is provided in these slides.  Thank you to Michael J. Friedman for his eagle eyes.)

kramer_thesis_defense_20160829.updated20160903

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Jonathan Kramer’s DLP Thesis Defense Announced

Sent out today by James Passanisi, Associate Director, Doctor of Law & Policy Program, Northeastern University regarding Jonathan Kramer’s thesis defense:

DLP community,

I am happy to announce that Jonathan Kramer will be defending his DLP thesis Cell Towers, Community Perspectives, and Hedonic Price Modeling: Utility, Limitations, and Localism on Tuesday, August 30 at 11:15 am, Eastern Time. Attached you will find the abstract of his project.

Please note that Jonathan will be defending his thesis remotely from California. Current students and alumni are welcome to attend the defense via webcast or in person at our office in Boston.

Here is the abstract of my thesis mentioned by Mr. Passanisi:

Abstract
The installation of cell sites in communities, especially in residential areas, is often controversial. Public concerns regarding residential property value diminution and negative health impacts attributed to cell sites near homes are commonly heard at local government planning and zoning hearings. Cell site permit denials can lead to federal or state litigation frequently based on the local government’s denial prohibiting the provision of a communications service, a federally-protected right under the Telecommunication Act of 1996. This research explores the history of hedonic price modeling in assessing the disamenity value of cell sites in residential areas, focusing on the utility and limitations of the prior research conducted in the United States, Europe, and New Zealand, as well as and how that research has been utilized by the courts. Also reported are the results of surveys and interviews of Calabasas, California residents regarding their perceptions of cell site impacts on property value and health in that city. This study finds that the prior hedonic price models of cell sites have important limitations and omit potentially relevant variables regarding spatial relationships and physical elements between cell sites and homes. In addition, the courts have given little weight to hedonic modeling studies, preferring locally-related comparable home value appraisal data. The conclusion suggests and discusses potential methods and variables that may improve future hedonic models of cell site impacts. Survey respondents in Calabasas exhibit an unexpected willingness to allow camouflaged cell sites in residential areas but are undecided regarding potential health impacts from cell sites. Finally, a proposed potential theory is suggested to explain why cell site opponents may argue property value diminution concerns at local government planning and zoning hearings as a surrogate for privately held concerns regarding health effects from cell sites.

JEL Codes: K11, K23, K40, K41, R30, R38
Keywords: Telecommunications Act, cell tower sites, wireless, hedonic, property value, radiation, health, Calabasas

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My Thesis Title is Approved

Today I received my PI’s approval for the title of my thesis.

I had suggested, “Hedonistic, Hedonic, or Hilarious: Taking the road less paved” for my contribution to society.  Alas, my PI preferred “Cell Towers, Community Perspectives, and Hedonic Price Modeling: Utility, Limitations, and Localism” for the thesis.  Who am I to argue with one of three people on my thesis committee who stand (or sit) between me and my doctorate.

Well, okay then.  I’ll take the road officially approved.

I defend my thesis on Tuesday, August 30th around 9 a.m. Pacific Time, which by my calendar is just 13 days from now.  Tick tock, Tick tock.

Source: http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/thesis_defense.png. Used with permission.

Source: http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/thesis_defense.png. Used with permission.

jlk

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Good luck, soon-to-be Dr. Evadne Hagigal!

Good luck to Evadne Hagigal, who will be defending her Doctor of Law and Policy doctoral thesis on Friday, August 12th.  The title of her thesis is, The Unintended Consequences of Federally Mandated Minimum Wage Increases: An Examination of Employment Trends and Employers’ Perspectives.

Jonathan

(UPDATE: She successfully defended her thesis, and will be Dr. Hagigal on September 22nd, and hooded on September 28th.  Great!!! -jlk)

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One Chapter Left

I’ve written 5 of the 6 chapters that comprise my thesis. The chapters are:

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature Review
  3. Research Methodology
  4. Resident Surveys and Interviews
  5. Hedonic Price Modeling and the Courts
  6. Conclusions and Recommendations

The final chapter, my conclusions and recommendations for further research, is in progress. I should have it finished later this week, and then off to my editor.

I’m still on track to defend my thesis on Tuesday, August 30th.

I am happy, but I’ll be happier when I’m done.

Jonathan

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Nearing the end…Doctor of Law and Policy

Cohort 8, Professors, and Key Program Staff. June, 2016.

Cohort 8, Professors, and Key Program Staff. June, 2016.

About 15 minutes ago the last quarter of Cohort 8’s Doctor of Law and Policy program at Northeastern University in Boston came to an end.  All of the classwork is complete.  Grades for the last quarter will come out in about 36 hours, not that the really matters now (well, maybe a little bit).

My thesis is coming along splendidly.  Still on track to now complete it by July 30th, and defend it on August 30th.

I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent with the members of Cohort, all of whom have become very close and important friends over the past two years.  We shared in a common journey and struggle, helping each other and thereby helping ourselves.

Over the course of studies, we’ve been gladdened by a marriage, a birth, various job changes, and a retirement.  We have also been saddened by the loss of extended family members, serious injuries, kidney stones, and cancer.

Cohort 8 has become its own family, with our key professors, Neenah Estrella-Luna and Dan Urman sometimes acting in loco parentis.  James Passanisi has been our kindly uncle for the past two years, working to make sure that we didn’t stray too far from the center, and properly scolding us a few times when we did.  David, and Wendy (a.k.a., Taz), have been our co-schemers and co-pranksters.

I look forward to seeing all of my family and our professors when we reconvene in September to be hooded as Doctors of Law and Policy.

I consider myself immensely lucky to have landed a spot in Cohort 8 of Northeastern University’s Doctor of Law and Policy program, and to be with such magnificent, intelligent, passionate and caring people.

Jonathan

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Court Cases Galore and Hedonic Price Modeling

I’ve been reviewing about 170 court cases touching on or dealing with perceptions of resident home value reduction due to the installation of a nearby cell site.  The court cases, which date back to about 1988, provide some very illuminating facts about what the courts consider to be reliable evidence, and what is not.

The information I’ve collected is going into my law and policy chapter, which is turning out to be quite interesting.

Sneak peak: Direct references to hedonic price modeling and a Dr. Sandy Bond paper are found in exactly one federal case.  The outcome of that case turned on other considerations.

Jonathan

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Dr. Sandy Bond’s Research Taken as Gospel by Some

21percentIt’s always an amusing surprise to me when I see Dr. Sandy Bond’s 2007 research on cell towers and property values quoted in public hearings.  It happened again a few days ago during a hearing in which I participated, when a resident told the government leaders that cell towers lower property values by 21% (not 20%; not 22%, but 21%).

Here’s the citation to Bond’s 2007 report in case you’d like to read the source materials (most people don’t):

Sandy Bond (2007) Cell Phone Tower Proximity Impacts on House Prices: A New Zealand Case Study, Pacific Rim Property Research Journal, 13:1, 63-91, DOI:10.1080/14445921.2007.11104223

I find it fascinating that the people who cite the number have no idea about what’s in the report, or that Dr. Bond’s research methodology has been roundly criticized by Filippova and Rehm (2011).

Here’s the cite to Filipova and Rehm’s research strongly challenging Bond’s 2007 research:

Filippova, O. and Rehm, M. (2011), “The impact of proximity to cell phone towers on residential property values”, International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 244-267.

Go ahead and read both documents, and then make an informed decision as to whether you would want to be associated with the 21% number.  I certainly don’t.

Finally, in about 90 days I’ll be publishing my findings on hedonic price modeling to assess the dis-amenity value of a cell site near a home, this time a bit closer to the U.S., specifically in Calabasas, California.  My research discloses that hedonic price modeling–if it ever had a valid place in research–is no longer any sort of useful tool in this line of research for reasons discussed in my thesis that could not have been known to Bond, Filippova, or Rehm, or to the few researchers to who followed down the same rabbit hole.

Living 5G Large, baby!

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