Head-Royce School is located in a very high fire hazard severity zone (VHFHSZ) as identified by Cal Fire. An earthquake, fire or other emergency would require evacuation of the densely populated neighborhood as well as the school’s students and staff. The city of Oakland is considering plans to limit population density in the very high fire hazard severity zones, at the same time Head-Royce plans to expand facilities and increase enrollment to 1,250 plus additional faculty and staff.

According to Oakland Fire Chief Reginald D. Freeman, significant increases in population density within the VHFHSZ in Oakland create a severe threat to public safety because existing infrastructure does not have enough capacity to handle mass evacuations during wildfires or other emergencies.

The school has not included neighbors in evacuation planning of the area and has only made plans related to its students and staff. HRS doesn’t take into account possibly hundreds of parents driving into the neighborhood at the same time residents are trying to evacuate and emergency vehicles are trying to respond. There is the potential for chaos if plans for evacuation of the school are not coordinated with the evacuation plans of the City of Oakland, the Mormon Temple, Greek Cathedral, Ability Now, two public schools within blocks of HRS and the residents of Lincoln Avenue and the streets feeding into Lincoln Avenue.

Fire Safety

Much of the Lincoln Childcare Center (LCC) property that was purchased by Head-Royce School has become a fire safety concern to neighbors due to abandoned or unoccupied wooden structures, overgrown and dry grass, ivy, and dead tree branches. The prior owner maintained the vegetation, but after HRS acquired it, neighbors noticed no management on the majority of the 7+ acres other than grooming a small grass play field and the area visible from Lincoln Avenue. Vegetation management is necessary year-round to effectively prevent wildfires. NSC continues to monitor the school’s compliance with City of Oakland vegetation management requirements.

In 2017, a series of communications between the school, neighbors and the Oakland Fire Department addressed the fire safety issue, an issue which will require continuous attention.