Dear City Councilman Dan Kalb

The Oakland Conduit received a copy of this letter addressed to Dan Kalb. 

Dear City Councilman Dan Kalb,

I’m writing today to give my deepest opposition to the SunCal Oak Knoll project. I have three main issues with the project: 1) The lack of local union labor. 2) No affordable housing. 3) The design does not create a community consistent with the current Oakland neighborhoods. The Oak Knoll area has potential to steer Oakland development in a positive direction, but the project as it is today would have the reverse effect.

SunCal has an opportunity to use the most highly qualified tradesmen in the world. As an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) electrician, I completed a rigorous five-year apprenticeship program, gaining access and knowledge to many different electrical fields. This includes industrial, residential and commercial work. IBEW 595 and National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) have recently constructed the most advanced electrical learning facility in the country: the Zero Net Energy Center in neighboring San Leandro. Here, IBEW 595 trains men and women of all colors to be the best [workers]. An honest wage, safe working practices, and being part of something greater than themselves attracts applicants. IBEW 595 has provided the best electrical services in Oakland for over 110 years.

Last Wednesday (October 18, 2017), Contract Planner Scott Gregory, was asked numerous questions about the architects of the Oak Knoll project. He assured the planning commission they were the best. However, if we want the best architects and engineers, wouldn’t we want the best electricians, plumbers, pipe fitters, sprinkler fitters, sheet metal workers, painters etc.? Over 200 highly trained and qualified IBEW members live in Oakland (including myself), and many more in the immediate surrounding cities. Hiring union is hiring local.

Oakland needs affordable housing. Every major project needs to include it. We need to integrate our city, not further segregate it. This project can provide housing for the students and teachers of nearby Merritt College. It could provide housing for the zookeepers, biologist, and veterinary workers at the nearby zoo. These workers are all priced out of the proposed community. $20 million dollars to be given to the city to build elsewhere is not the answer.

The overall layout of the proposed project looks more Walnut Creek than Oakland. Why not create another neighborhood similar to Montclair, Piedmont Avenue, Fruitvale, or Laurel?

I request that you oppose this project and encourage the rest of your colleagues to do so as well. As an electrician and husband to a marine vertebrate ecology master’s student, my livelihood and family depends on it.


Lewis Lopez
(International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Electrician)