California-focused energy company Berry Petroleum recently mailed offer letters to residents of McKittrick in hopes of buying up public and private property throughout the town. According to KTLA, much of the property that the company hopes to get their hands on includes residential housing and educational institutions.
The small town of McKittrick is located West of Bakersfield and houses 102 residents. There are already a few oil drilling operations that exist near the town that do not infringe on town property. KTLA mentioned that residents are concerned about the cost of moving elsewhere, and the future education of their children.
“We made a home out here,” resident Alejandra Arroyo shared with KTLA, “And the education for the kids is really badass.”
While offers pend, the fate of the school remains uncertain. McKittrick Elementary School superintendent Heather Richter released a statement in which it was detailed that the school board is in discussion with Berry Petroleum, but no decisions have been made yet. Residents are worried that when all is said and done, they may not get a choice in the matter.
“...Berry is therefore prepared to purchase your property at a market value plus premium. We believe this would allow you to find a replacement home outside the setback distance and help preserve Berry’s operations and benefits to the local community," the offer letters stated. KTLA noted another statement released by Berry Petroleum that discussed residents having the option to either accept or decline the offers to purchase their property.
“I think the oil fields big plan is to buy everyone out,” resident Steven Phan mentioned. “Nobody that lives here has any say.”