March 10, 2022
Telecommunications: Cell Tower Leasing and Sales
This program provides municipalities (and all property owners) with the basics of leasing land for a cell tower or space on a building (or other structure) for cell antennas. It describes 5G service, why it is being rolled out slowly and why it has little impact on cell lease rental rates or the sales price for cell leases. It is presented by two attorneys with decades of experience representing municipalities and other property owners on cell leases. The program starts by covering key business issues in cell site leases, including lease rates, who gets the revenues from additional antennas or carriers being co-located at a site, and the major rent increases possible at renewals. It then shifts to avoiding lease terms which can prevent a landlord’s use or development of the property with the lease, and adding lease terms which help preserve these rights. After covering some more conventional lease terms the program addresses the sale of cell leases and future leasing rights. This includes typical sale prices (currently around 19 times annual revenues); when to sell and when it is not advisable to sell; how to get the best price and terms in a sale; and again avoiding provisions that restrict the development or use of the property. On both cell leases and the sale of leases the program addresses key items that are unique to municipalities. More generally, the program covers such topics as lease term and terminations, access requirements, radio frequency interference, design and camouflage, and radio frequency emissions safety.
Speakers: John Pestle and Jonathan Kramer
John Pestle is the Chair of the Telecommunications Group at the Varnum law firm and is admitted to practice in Michigan and Arizona. For 26 years he has represented municipalities and private property owners nationwide on cell tower leases. John is a graduate of Harvard College, Yale Graduate School, and the University of Michigan Law School. Among his many qualifications, John held an FCC license to work on radio, TV and ship radar transmitters and was Chair of the Government Lawyers Section of the Michigan Bar. He has received the “Member of the Year” award from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, and a “Special Award of Merit” from the Michigan Municipal League for his work representing municipalities on cable and telecommunications matters. For the Varnum web page on cell towers go to https://www.varnumlaw.com/model-cell-tower-leases/ and for John’s cell tower blog go to https://www.varnumlaw.com/author/john-w-pestle/
Jonathan Kramer is the principal attorney of Telecom Law Firm in Los Angeles. Since 1984 as a consultant, and 2006 as an attorney, he has advised more than 800 government agencies regarding wireless and broadband matters. Telecom Law Firm works for governments and private landlords around the country crafting reasonably fair wireless site leases. The firm has made a mark detecting and collecting rent-in-arrears for overoccupancy at lease sites, which is a frequent occurrence, and has resulted in 6 to 6-figure collections of back rent and interest, and increased rent going forward. Jonathan co-authored and edited the FCC’s publication for local government officials on radio frequency emissions safety, and at the request of the FCC he is presently revising and expanding it. Kramer holds a bunch of FCC licenses and telecom industry engineering certifications. Jonathan is admitted to practice in California and New Mexico and holds a LL.M degree in Information Technology and Telecommunications Law.