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When the F-35 Comes to Town Property Values Will Take a Beating

When the F-35 Comes to Town Property Values Will Take a Beating

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Published by SyncOrSwim
Timothy Hogan PhD, professor of economics from the Arizona State University, studied the economic impact on the West Valley of replacing the f-16 fighter jets at Luke Air Force Base with the new F-35s. Dr. Hogan found for every one-to-two decibel rise in noise levels there was a one percent decrease in property values, permanently reducing property values by as much as 17 percent in the affected areas. With the F-35 shown to be 10-to-20 decibels louder than the F-16, the F-35 could prove to be a costly neighbor.
Timothy Hogan PhD, professor of economics from the Arizona State University, studied the economic impact on the West Valley of replacing the f-16 fighter jets at Luke Air Force Base with the new F-35s. Dr. Hogan found for every one-to-two decibel rise in noise levels there was a one percent decrease in property values, permanently reducing property values by as much as 17 percent in the affected areas. With the F-35 shown to be 10-to-20 decibels louder than the F-16, the F-35 could prove to be a costly neighbor.

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Published by: SyncOrSwim on Feb 08, 2012
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09/26/2014

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AN EVALUATION OF THE POTENTIAL LOSS IN WEST VALLEY HOME VALUESFROM LOCATING F-35 AT LUKE AIR FORCE BASE
Timothy D. Hogan, Ph.D.Luke Air Force Base has been a major pilot-training base for almost 70 years. When itbegan operations in 1941, the lands surrounding the base and/or under its flight pathswere undeveloped desert or scantly-populated agricultural land far from populatedareas. But with the rapid growth of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area in the post-World WarII era, development has expanded into areas surrounding the base threatening theviability of its operations.Since Luke AFB is perceived as a major contributor to the economies of the state ofArizona and the Phoenix area,
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the state and the West Valley communities around LukeAFB have taken steps to regulate land use in the vicinity of the air base and its flightpaths to minimize the safety and noise issues associated with its operations.State laws and planning/zoning actions by local jurisdictions have preserved the viabilityof Luke AFB’s current mission as the largest F-16 training base, and thereby allowedthe continued flow of economic benefits from base operations. It should be recognized,however, that these land use restrictions also have negative economic effects that areconcentrated on property owners, the business sector, and the local governments in thesurrounding communities. More generally, these negative effects also impact the widereconomy and partially offset the positive benefits of Luke AFB operations.The U.S. Air Force is planning to begin replacing the F-16 with the new F-35 within thenext few years and to phase out the F-16 over the next decade. Luke AFB is beingconsidered as a site for an F-35 training base. If it becomes a training base for F-35pilots, it is anticipated that the scale of training operations would largely remain thesame. However, results of testing by both the Air Force and independent expertsindicate that the noise levels of the F-35 are much higher than the F-16.
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 If aircraft noise associated with F-35 training operations is significantly higher thancurrent noise levels in areas surrounding the base and its flight paths, the adverseeffects resulting from base operations would also escalate. Focusing only on theeconomic effects, the higher noise levels would have negative effects on propertyvalues in the affected areas, and the existing land use plans would need to be modifiedto reflect the higher noise levels. Both of these would result in losses in property valuesand have adverse effects on the economies of the surrounding communities.
Measurements of Aircraft Noise Levels
Aside from safety issues associated with aircraft crashes and other types of accidents,noise is the largest burden placed on surrounding areas by the military operations atLuke AFB. Loud noises can be very annoying and, if at a high enough level and/orsufficient frequency, can cause health problems. But while most agree that excessivenoise is bothersome, it is a subjective issue. Noises from different sources vary byintensity, duration, frequency, and time of day at which the noise occurs. How differentpeople evaluate the level of annoyance and/or the disruption associated with particulartypes of noises can be affected by all these and many other factors. In an effort to takeat least some of these factors into account, a number of alternative measures of noiselevel have been developed.The decibel or dB is the most fundamental measure of noise level. It measures only theintensity or “loudness” of noise. It has largely been supplanted by the “A weighted”decibel or dBA, which accounts for the fact that humans do not hear high or lowfrequencies as well as middle frequency sounds. The “sound exposure level” or SEL isa noise measurement that accounts for both the intensity and the duration of a singlenoise event. In some instances, as for example comparisons of the relative noise levelsof an F-16 versus an F-35, the noise levels are typically reported in terms of either dBAsor SELs.
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Aircraft noise as it relates the noise levels around airports is usually defined in terms ofa more complex measure, the day/night average sound level - denoted either as DNL orLdn. This is a measure of total aircraft-generated noise averaged over a 24-hour period,with a penalty for nighttime noise. DNL measures are typically calculated from datacollected from alternative locations surrounding an airport over a period of time. Thelatest published DNL data for Luke AFB was calculated by the Air Force from datacollected in 2001.
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 Conventionally these calculated DNL measures are represented in terms of DNL noisecontours that show the areas surrounding an airport in which the DNL is equal to orhigher than a particular value. Figure 1 shows a set of such contours for the areasurrounding Luke AFB.
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 The Federal Aviation Administration identifies a DNL level of 65 as the upper limit ofacceptable aircraft-generated noise levels. The Environmental Protection Agency on theother hand defines the threshold level at 55+.There are ongoing debates on the relative strengths/weaknesses of the alternatemeasures. But it is important to remember that all these metrics are alternativeapproaches to measuring the level of noise. They do not directly measure the level ofannoyance caused by the noise. In particular, since noise levels around airports areusually described in terms of DNL noise contours, it should be noted that the DNLmeasure has been criticized for understating the practical effects of noise and itsannoyance (FAA WebPages 1999).
Noise Levels and Current Land Use Restrictions
In Arizona, noise-based constraints on land use are regulated by state law and localzoning ordinances. State law requires disclosure to property owners/buyers thatproperty is in the vicinity of a military airport with the potential for accidents and highnoise levels. All political subdivisions in the vicinity of a military airport are required to
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