For a couple days, Christine Bullard could breathe easy.
The “no fault” 60-day eviction notice her building manager handed her Oct. 22 had turned the South Pasadenan’s life upside-down. She’d moved into a two-bedroom unit at 609 Prospect Ave. nine years earlier with two children who’ve since flown the coop.
In emails and phone calls to the landlord, Bullard tried to negotiate, making several counteroffers. But, as with the media inquiries that would later follow, every message sent and call made went without response from either Tredco LLC, the apartment building’s management firm, or Crown City Medical Group (CCMG), the building’s owner.
Both companies are owned and operated by members of the Tyson family of Pasadena physicians and philanthropists, who work primarily out of their sprawling medical campus on East Washington Blvd. and have numerous other business interests. Kevin Tyson, an internist, is an officer of CCMG and Tredco while his sister Michelle A. Tyson, a family doctor, is a CCMG officer.
The Tyson’s bought the 30-unit building in 2017. In October, they raised everyone’s rent 8 percent and sent “no fault” eviction notices to three tenants, including Bullard.
When she called Tredco, Bullard said the receptionist told her “the owners did receive your emails and know you are trying to get in touch.” They expressed surprise Bullard hadn’t heard back from the Tysons.
But it seems the doctors were too busy. It’s not surprising. Kevin Tyson reported to the state Medical Board he spends up to 29 hours a week on administrative duties with less than 10 hours devoted to patient care. Michelle Tyson told the Board she works up to 116 hours a week. In June, Kevin Tyson closed a deal to sell his interest in Alpha Care Medical Group for $45 million. And last month his second sister, a veterinarian who also works out of CCMG’s E Washington Blvd. clinic, had her license revoked for lying to state regulators and fabricating evidence about a contagious horse she removed from a state-ordered quarantine and later killed.
Realizing she was not going to get a call back, Bullard began the search for a home. As she works in the real estate business, she quickly realized she couldn’t afford a new two-bedroom unit, and that even a one-bedroom would cost a third more than what she pays now for two.
Bullard was caught up in a wave of evictions triggered by state passage of a flawed tenant protection law. She joined a community resistance effort, went to meetings and spoke publicly to persuade the City Council to adopt an emergency ordinance placing a temporary moratorium on the evictions. At a packed meeting Nov. 6, the Council unanimously approved the measure, triggering a loud round of applause that brought a welcome thaw in recent political tensions.
Days went by but Bullard heard nothing from the Tysons. “I sent them a certified letter stating I was going to stay and included a copy of the ordinance.” Finally, on Nov. 23, Bullard received a terse note from Tyson representative Joanne Castro citing the moratorium and rescinding the eviction.
Bullard won. She’d saved her home.
But the Tysons weren’t through with her. Two days later, at the start of Thanksgiving week, her on-site manager approached her with another piece of paper. “She did not want to hand it to me,” Bullard recalled. “She looked at me with sad eyes” and handed over a new eviction order. “I am so sorry,” the manager said.
The Tysons had decided to restart the 60-day termination process, this time citing their plan to renovate Bullard’s unit. The city’s moratorium provides that if a landlord plans a “substantial remodel,” it can issue the tenant a “no-fault just cause” eviction notice. If it does, it must remit the evictee a “relocation payment” equal to one-month’s rent. Along with the new notice to Bullard, the Tysons dutifully enclosed a relocation check.
“I feel like I fought this fight and they came back with this. Why not give me this notice in the first place?” Bullard asks. “Part of me feels like it’s retaliation. Another part feels I am nothing but a number to them. They just want me out to keep the renovations going.”
Renovation work at the complex has been going on for over two years. Eight of the 10 units in Bullard’s wing of the building are currently gutted and empty. Some were evicted, others left because they were tired of living in “a perpetual construction zone,” Bullard said. It’s taken so long, the city permits allowing it expired. On Nov. 14, the city ordered the work halted until a new permit could be secured.
Now, Bullard says she’s packing up. She’ll head north to Humboldt to spend the rest of the holidays with her daughter but after that, the future is unclear. Bullard, who earlier this year was shopping in South Pasadena with her daughter when they were filmed for a segment in South Pasadena’s recent promotional video, “Come Grow With Us,” will have to grow someplace else.
Repeated attempts by the South Pasadenan News to reach Tredco, Crown City Medical, and Drs. Kevin or Michelle Tyson yielded no response. Their mother, Maureen B. Tyson, whose late physician husband founded CCMG in 1974, is listed by the California Secretary of State’s office as the CEO of both Tredco LLC and Crown City Medical Group. It was she who signed Bullard’s relocation check.
Reached by phone and asked about Bullard’s story, Mrs. Tyson told the South Pasadenan News “all of that is not true.” She said she had “no information” about the events, denied she is the CEO of either company and hung up.