Community Association of the Year

Communicator of the Year: Montebello Condominium Unit Owners Association

Montebello Condominium Unit Owners Association was named Communicator of the Year in the Community Association of the Year Contest. They are managed by FirstService Residential, AAMC. This is the essay submitted with the community’s application. 

By Douglas M. Kleine, Board of Directors & Assistant Treasurer, Montebello Condominium Unit Owners Association

With residents of diverse ages, nationalities, preferences, interests, and abilities, Montebello makes a priority of timely, clear, cost effective, and accessible communications. We made this understood in our Guiding Principles for Communications adopted by our board.

When Montebello was built in 1983, we relied on paper media. Some residents today continue to prefer that method, so we still distribute information on paper while continually migrating to and updating our electronic options: website, cloud, BuildingLink, emails, videos, and apps. Our communications are directed by a staff member knowledgeable in multiple applications.

For example, New Resident orientation information is available as a PowerPoint shown at a meeting with our Resident Coordinator and posted on our website. A Resident Handbook is available in paper or electronically. Our newsletter is distributed under doors, and also posted on our website, often with additional photos and content. We send an email blast when a new issue is posted.

MCUOA communicates notices of activities and meetings, routine unit inspections, and similar information via email, with links to our website. Notices also appear on electronic bulletin boards in building lobbies and in our Community Center; paper copies are delivered under doors and posted on bulletin boards. Under door deliveries also include a monthly Calendar and package of Special Events flyers.

We post last minute notices, such as Shuttle Bus changes, as paper signs on entry doors or elevators, and send them by email. Urgent advisories (for example, construction activity or herbicide spraying), arrive by email and under doors.

Our Grounds Committee developed an app with information about our woodlands, maps, and other useful information. A video, created to help owners fill out and submit their ballots for our annual board election, is available on our website.

We installed the Internet based resident management system, BuildingLink, which enables residents to request and track in-unit service, authorize visitor access, reserve party rooms, communicate with management, consult documents, and other actions-­upgrading processes formerly handled on paper to a system with more accountability-­ and includes a free app for phones and computers.

Of course, residents and owners can call or visit the front desk, staffed 7 days a week, 8:30 am (9 am on weekends) to 10 pm. They can limit the emails they receive by changing their personal settings on the website. Owners and residents are encouraged to attend board and committee meetings, which are open and posted. We support Informal communication with a full calendar of social activities and other opportunities to meet and mingle.

We measure the effectiveness of our communications efforts through 30-second surveys, focus groups, and other feedback.

Finally, what makes Montebello different–and, we believe, more cohesive and vibrant–is our culture of service excellence fostered by our General Manager and supported by our board. One example: Resident volunteers offered lessons in English to staff members who do not speak it as their first language–encouraging communications and inclusion with valued members of our community and bringing us all a little closer.