Why Is Zuckerberg Suing Native Hawaiians For Property That Belongs To Them?

Bad neighbour?

Cover image via Kay Nietfeld/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP IMAGES

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is going after his neighbours to ensure his 700-acre Hawaiian compound remains impenetrable

He has filed a series of lawsuits against several hundred people — some of whom are dead — to compel them to sell small plots of land they own that lie within the 700-acre property that Mark purchased on the island of Kauai two years ago for USD100 million.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, close to a dozen small parcels within Mark's Kauai estate are owned by Kamaaina families who have rights to traverse the billionaire's otherwise private domain.

Something that the Facebook CEO is not too pleased with.

To enhance the seclusion of his property, three companies owned by the billionaire have filed eight "Quiet title" lawsuits in a Kauai court which basically forces these Kamaaina families to sell their land at a public court auction to the highest bidder.

No prices for guessing who the highest bidder is going to be.

Image via Gizmodo

In the past, Zuckerberg built a 6-foot-wall around the property to it secluded, thus blocking the sea view from others, which drew ire from many of his neighbours.

The billionaire's latest legal attempt is aimed at making his secluded USD100 million beach-front land on the island's north shore even more private and impenetrable.

Under the legal process, Mark will pay compensation to the people he is suing. But the spectacle of a billionaire tech titan filing lawsuits against locals to claim their traditional land does seem desperate.

Mark, on the other hand, in a Facebook post a few hours back, said that stories written about his property in Hawaii are "misleading"

However, regardless of Zuckerberg's legal motives in the case, it has angered native Hawaiians due to the nature of the lawsuits

According to the Native Hawaiian Law primer on so-called "quiet title" law, partition by sale is "highly problematic for the Native Hawaiian community" and such a transaction, no matter how small or inconsequential it may be, "severs a family's connection to the ancestral land," reported The Mercury News.

Although, the legal action that Mark Zuckerberg is taking to acquire the land is not uncommon in Hawaii, but for many people, it serves as another example of how people with money and power can simply push Native Hawaiians out of Hawaii.

What doesn't serve to Mark Zuckerberg's interest, though, is that the billionaire has had a muddy history of being a "bad neighbour"

Prior to he built a gigantic wall around the border of the Kauai property, Zuckerberg spent millions of dollars on construction of his other home in San Francisco, leaving neighbours feeling "under siege" for about 18 months. It was also reported that Zuckerberg hired people to sit in cars and hold neighbourhood parking spaces for his construction workers.

He had also tried to replace four homes around his estate in the Crescent Park neighbourhood by tearing them down, essentially creating a compound in the middle of leafy, tony Palo Alto, thus destroying the neighbourhood's single-family-home vibe.

Coming back to the "Quiet title" lawsuits, the problem here is that, they leave the families being sued with almost no choice

They have 20 days to respond and if they don't, they get no say in the proceeding. If they choose to participate, it could be expensive if they want to be represented by an attorney.

How expensive, you ask? According to Hawaii News Now's estimates, a contested case could cost a defendant at least USD200,000.

For the eight quiet title cases on Kauai, if a judge allows an auction, anyone with the money to back up their bid can participate.

However, seeing how Mark Zuckerberg, who had a net worth of USD44.6 billion last year and made USD5 billion in the first two weeks of January this year, it's hardly anyone guess who is going to be the highest bidder.

What's your take on the issue? Do you like what Zuckerberg is doing to get the property? Comment below to let us know.

Other property related news from close home:

You may be interested in: