Engaging the Disengaged: Involving Homeowners Associations in Stormwater Management
The purpose of this presentation is to provide the audience with guidance for developing successful collaborations and tailored outreach material for Homeowners Associations (HOAs). In 2017-18, the County of San Diego implemented a project to foster new collaboration with HOAs with the goal of promoting behavior change, while at the same time, improving perceptions of the County as a partner in pollution prevention rather than just a regulator. Despite their significant polluting potential, HOAs have not typically been targeted for stormwater management outreach and education. The vast majority of existing County efforts have focused on educating individual residents through channels, such as direct mail, event booths, and educational flyers and door hangers. However, there have been no systematic efforts to leverage a significant leadership entity within many residential communities – the HOA. HOAs represent an ideal outlet for disseminating materials to a large number of residents. Providing HOA managers with useful and relevant materials that can easily be distributed to residents can simplify outreach and foster community norms. HOAs are unique in that both residents and management are often collectively responsible for maintaining the overall property, common areas, and facilities. Effective outreach to HOAs has numerous benefits for the HOA and its residents that go beyond improved water quality. These benefits include improvements to community infrastructure, decreased maintenance costs, improved aesthetics, and reduced nuisance complaints related to trash and pets. The presentation covers three phases of a project designed to develop and test new outreach materials for HOAs. In Phase 1, we conducted telephone surveys with HOA managers and management companies to identify HOA education needs and preferred communication channels. In Phase 2, we developed and delivered an outreach binder tailored to the survey research findings. In Phase 3, we developed and evaluated an in-person presentation and implementation guide to facilitate broad scale delivery of the outreach material and to incorporate a variety of elements drawn from research in the social sciences including in-person communication, goal-setting, commitments, and social norms.
Jennifer Tabanico is President and owner of Action Research, a firm that specializes in changing behavior for the public good by applying marketing and social science research to outreach programs that promote clean, healthy, and sustainable communities. Jennifer has a Master of Arts degree in Experimental Psychology and more than 15 years of experience developing and implementing community-based programs for public and private agencies. Her work has spanned a broad range of social and community issues including water quality, waste and recycling, litter prevention, energy-efficiency, water conservation, and sustainable forestry. She has worked for a range of public and private clients including the City and County of San Diego, the American Forest Foundation, and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN). Ms. Tabanico has authored several publications in both academic and technical outlets including the Journal of Environmental Psychology, Social Influence, and Social Marketing Quarterly. Jennifer also serves as an instructor for the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Extension’s Behavior Change and Sustainability certificate program.