Miramar Pipeline Construction Comes to a Close

Posted on in Community Outreach, Katz Connection

You’re late for work. You forgot your coffee. And now you see orange construction cones up ahead.

Construction zones are an unavoidable part of life, popping up at what commuters may feel to be the most inopportune times and impacting the surrounding community in foreseeable and unforeseeable ways. That’s why our construction relations specialists at Katz & Associates approach each project uniquely, tailoring our proven methods and tactics to ensure the public stays informed and involved throughout the lifespan of the construction project.

Over the past two years, construction activities for the U.S. Navy’s Miramar Fuel Pipeline Repair and Relocation Project have impacted portions of Rosecrans Street in San Diego’s Point Loma neighborhood, from dense residential and business areas to a waterfront walking trail. For residents and businesses, construction impacts were expected to be more varied than the usual traffic and detour impacts commuters experience when driving through a construction zone. The Navy recognized the need for construction relations and engaged Katz & Associates from the very beginning to ensure that the public was kept notified, responded to, and involved throughout the project.

Pipeline infographic thumb

Click to view a summary of our outreach.

Katz & Associates worked with the Navy to develop a comprehensive public outreach program at the onset of the project to inform neighboring residents, businesses, community groups, elected officials and other stakeholders, including commuters, about the need for the project and the expected impacts during construction, such as driveway closures, street resurfacing and construction noise. The construction schedule and potential impacts were communicated early to the surrounding community and stakeholders, and complaints, concerns and emergency situations were responded to in a timely manner.

Katz & Associates and the Navy listened to the public’s concerns and implemented a variety of public outreach methods best suited for the area, from posting door-to-door notifications to sending email notices and holding community meetings, to providing updates on social media.

We can’t block out the construction noise for you, but we can make the experience as painless as possible by ensuring you’re aware of and prepared for it, every step of the way.

Civility, it’s not a new concept.

Posted on in Best Practices, Katz Connection, Public Participation

Civility graphic

Civility. It’s a word I don’t recall hearing discussed much over the years, until recently, as our national political dialogue has shifted, with name calling and finger-pointing occurring on both sides of the political aisle and with challenging issues arising throughout our individual communities. As a strategic communications firm that has spent more than 30 years working with difficult and sometimes contentious land-use, environmental and other community stakeholder issues, we at K&A are reminded of how important this notion of civility is now, more than ever. From school campuses to board rooms to community groups, everyone has strong opinions and we need to remember to do as much listening as we do talking.

So, what could be contributing to this vitriol? With a 24-hour news cycle and myriad social media platforms to get news and information, attention spans are at an all-time low and statistics show that given the wealth of available content, people generally consume news that aligns with their point of view. It has led to less patience, less tolerance, and often an unwillingness to consider other perspectives on the same issue. Hence the need for civility.

Having joined K&A as the firm’s new president six months ago, I’ve greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet with our team and learn about exciting and challenging projects we are working on throughout the state and across the country. Every project is important, and so too is the opportunity to ensure people have a voice that contributes to a diverse dialogue of opinions and helps achieve a successful and inclusive result.

What has also been gratifying, is seeing our commitment to an effective public participation process as established by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) – an international association focused on advancing the practice of public participation through training, for which our former president, Lewis Michaelson, was one of the principal architects of the curriculum. To date, 18 K&A team members have completed IAP2 training.

K&A has never taken for granted the need for civil and respectful dialogue. Using proven IAP2 methods, we work closely with all our client partners, from large municipal transportation agencies to water districts to developers, to ensure the end result of any communications or engagement process is one made better by respectful dialogue and community input.

Should you have a potentially challenging project or program in need of community engagement and strategic communications, consider putting our 30-plus years of experience to work for you. And remember, a bit of civility goes a long way.

K&A supports SFPUC’s Adopt a Drain in San Francisco

Posted on in Katz Connection, Water

By Kristen Asato-Webb


Frankie Burton and Kristen Asato-Webb are spotted outside of SFPUC headquarters cleaning the K&A adopted drain, which was named “No Drain, No Gain” through a companywide competition.

Frankie Burton and Kristen Asato-Webb are spotted outside of SFPUC headquarters cleaning the K&A adopted drain, which was named “No Drain, No Gain” through a companywide competition.

During winter months on rainy days when large droplets pour from the cloudy skies across the concrete city of San Francisco, the water has only a few places to go. Gutters and storm drains are designed to manage the excess water in city streets when it drains, but if leaves and street debris collect over the storm drain grate, water cannot enter the catch basin below. This can result in localized ponding, which is a nuisance to pedestrians, vehicles, and neighborhoods. San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) maintenance crews are proactive and vigilant about street sweeping and grate clearing before and during storms, but it is not possible for the City to monitor all 25,000 drains simultaneously, especially during a rain event.

More than 2,200 storm drains have been adopted by more than 1,416 residents since the SFPUC launched the Adopt a Drain SF program in October 2016. The Katz & Associates (K&A) team has been working closely with the SFPUC ever since to assist with the overall strategy, implementation, promotion and support on all aspects of the program. This innovative program enables San Franciscans to use a web application to “adopt” one or more of the city’s 25,000 storm drains, pledging to keep it clear of leaves and debris, especially before and during large rain storms. The K&A team works closely with the SFPUC to provide guidance on promoting the program and supporting its drain adopters through robust outreach including regular communication with adopters through emails and social media as well as coordinating and executing volunteer tool pick-up events.

In response to community concerns about localized flooding, SFPUC created the RainReadySF program in 2015 to educate residents about infrastructure projects that are planned and underway to address flooding, how city crews prepare for rain and how residents and businesses can better prepare themselves. SFPUC led the effort, in partnership with San Francisco Public Works, DataSF, San Francisco Department of Technology and Code for San Francisco, to develop Adopt a Drain SF as an innovative tool to help reinforce the RainReadySF messaging and inspire the community to get involved.

RainReadySF advertisement highlighting the Adopt a Drain program seen on local MUNI buses.

RainReadySF advertisement highlighting the Adopt a Drain program seen on local MUNI buses.

In October 2017, the RainReadySF team kicked off the rainy season with a media event to announce the recent commission approval of an additional $2 million dollars in floodwater grant funding to reimburse property owners for implementing projects to help prevent flooding on their properties and highlight the Adopt a Drain program successes.  The event resulted in over 11 print media stories and broadcasts by online newspaper, radio, and television outlets. In addition, the K&A team assisted the SFPUC to place “Are you Rain Ready?” ads on local MUNI buses just as the first rains of the season hit as a call to action for all San Francisco residents to get Rain Ready!

After the first major rain of 2018, Adopt a Drain gained more positive earned media attention from the San Francisco Chronicle, which prompted a significant spike in adoptions of over 160 new adopter sign ups in less than one week! A record for sure!

Frankie Burton, Emily Powell and Elizabeth Cox at the October 2016 Volunteer VIP event launch at the Southeast Treatment Plant.

Frankie Burton, Emily Powell and Elizabeth Cox at the October 2016 Volunteer VIP event launch at the Southeast Treatment Plant.

The team utilized a variety of promotional tools to promote the program and reward adopters for their service, including VIP volunteer appreciation events, Eventbrite, Survey Monkey and the public service announcements (PSA) the SFPUC developed with SFGovTV. The PSAs ran on Comcast cable for six weeks during the fall 2016 and were promoted as paid Facebook advertisements with great success. In April 2017, the “Adopt a Drain” PSA won first place for the Public Education Semi-Professional category of the California Water Environmental Association, Film Festival.

Adopt a Drain has also fostered community engagement by encouraging people to take an active role in improving their neighborhood by keeping their drains clean Prominent city leaders, such as SFPUC Commissioner Ike Kwon and Supervisors Norman Yee, have adopted drains and are vocal supporters of the program. Fourteen cities in the United States and Canada have inquired about the SFPUC program in hopes of duplicating it in their cities. The team has also received significant amounts of positive feedback through social media and surveys.

Young William inspires many as he cleans his adopted drain, “Drain Robot”.

Young William inspires many as he cleans his adopted drain, “Drain Robot”.

Adopt a Drain has also helped to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. One of our youngest drain adopters, four-year-old William, has captured hearts with his dedication. He is a self-proclaimed “ocean hero”, and he is very passionate about picking up litter. After SFPUC featured him in the team’s digital outreach campaign, San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Fewer reached out to the team to thank William for his volunteer work.

Adopt a Drain has helped to build a base of engaged community members and SFPUC supporters who understand how challenging the combined sewer system is and how critical it is to invest in infrastructure and vital services. This support will continue to be very important as the SFPUC enters the construction outreach phase of the Headworks and Biosolids Digester Facilities projects at the Southeast Treatment Plant this year as part of the Sewer System Improvement Program.

Care For a Glass of Raw Water?

Posted on in Katz Connection, Water

RawWater to size

A recent Washington Post article discussed the growing market for raw water – straight from nature containing “the things nature intended without the chemicals, such as chlorine, often used in urban water treatment processes.”

Who would have thought that in 2018, more than 100 years after scientists discovered the importance of treating water to address sometimes deadly waterborne disease, that we would see a “health” trend praising raw water and vilifying ozonation, UV treatment, or microfiltration. The claim is that the mineral content of raw water is more robust, serving as a natural probiotic.

There is plenty of media and online coverage, from every perspective, about this topic and what on earth people are thinking. We won’t take more space addressing that debate. What we will say is that, once again, nationally-covered – and often misinformed – stories about water provide an opportunity to showcase the excellent service utilities are providing to ensure safe, sustainable water supplies. The water profession, made up of scientists, regulators and engineers and utility experts – whether urban, suburban, rural or otherwise – have a remarkable story to tell about protecting public health. As some tout the benefits of untreated, raw water, expert voices need to be equally pronounced, taking pride in the important work our industry professionals do every day not only to meet requirements, but to exceed them and search for new and even more advanced technologies to continue raising the protection bar.

After 30 years of communicating about important water issues, I can say that while the issues ebb and flow, one solution remains at the forefront: Tell your story. Be a part of the conversation. Correct misinformation. And share with pride what you do, and be honest about the challenges you face and the solutions you’re implementing.

There is an abundance of information out there about water. Don’t let others take up important information space that you should occupy.

Coming Full Circle: Craft Brewers Demonstrate Potable Reuse Acceptance

Posted on in Water


Some 20 years ago, a well-known American beer brewer decided that a Southern California water district would damage its reputation for a quality brew—aided and abetted by competitive beer makers—if that district succeeded in its plan to build a recycling plant that would return purified water to the local groundwater basin that the brewery obtained its water from and, eventually, to the drinking water supply. Two decades later, a seemingly clever but ultimately inaccurate description of this forward-looking process of potable reuse, namely “toilet to tap” (T-to-T), still resurfaces among scare mongers and sensationalists who use it as pejorative shorthand in a hearts-and-minds battle for reliable water supplies.

T-to-T remains a phrase that haunts potable reuse projects more than 20 years after it was first coined. Cartoons still appear, showing the choice of drinking from your toilet, along with pithy captions. Yet if you believe that all bad things must come to an end, in large part that’s what is happening today: there are more potable reuse projects than ever being planned and implemented. And whether it’s drinking from a water tap or beer tap, public acceptance is becoming more prevalent than ever.

Read the full article by Sara M. Katz and Patricia Tennyson published in January’s AWWA Journal here.