Reviews of Zuckerberg’s wall mixed
A crew recently began building a nearly 6-foot-high rock wall slated to stretch 3,300 feet along one edge of Zuckerberg’s land fronting Koolau Road between Anahola and Kilauea.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
Facebook’s billionaire founder Mark Zuckerberg made a big splash on Kauai two years ago when he bought about 700 verdant acres for more than $100 million, but now he’s begun to change the landscape on his property and some neighbors don’t like it.
A crew recently began building a nearly 6-foot-high rock wall slated to stretch 3,300 feet along one edge of Zuckerberg’s land fronting Koolau Road between Anahola and Kilauea on Kauai’s north shore — to the dismay of some neighbors whose distant ocean views are being obstructed.
Gy Hall, one neighbor, said the wall is obscuring what had been an ocean view from the road.
“Walking along the road you’ve lost the ocean view,” he said. “You can’t see anything beyond it except the sky.”
Hall, who said he still has an ocean view from his home, isn’t opposed to property owners building walls, but is disappointed that Zuckerberg’s representatives didn’t confer with the community about his plan. “There hasn’t been a community outreach,” he said.
Though the wall is properly permitted and viewed by some area residents as an improvement over scrubby foliage that grew along some parts of the property before Zuckerberg bought it, the discord has caught the attention of national media outlets and become a trending topic on Facebook and fodder for blogs that have cast Zuckerberg in an unfavorable light.
“Wall-Hating Mark Zuckerberg Is Building A Huge Wall On His Hawaii Property,” blares a headline in the Daily Caller, referring to comments Zuckerberg has made denouncing a plan by presidential candidate Donald Trump to erect a wall between the United States and Mexico.
Another headline, on Sputniknews.com, uses a negative reference to Facebook’s “like” button for praising something to describe its story about the wall — “‘Dislike’: Hawaiians Up in Arms Over Facebook Founder’s ‘Oppressive’ Wall.”
Vanity Fair magazine calls the offending rock wall the “Zuckerwall.”
National media from the New York Post to Time magazine have produced versions of the story based on a report by the Garden Island newspaper on Saturday.
In the Garden Island story, Kilauea resident Donna Mcmillen was quoted calling the wall a “monstrosity” that doesn’t fit with the island’s natural beauty. “I’m super unhappy about that,” she said, according to the newspaper. “There are people on the island who(se) money can pay for anything. These kind of things that they do take away what Kauai is all about.”
The Garden Island newspaper has noted before that part of the property acquired by Zuckerberg had been subdivided for 80 luxury homes before the Facebook CEO bought the land.
Sarah Blane, a spokeswoman for Kauai County, said the County Planning Department issued a permit for the wall and has not received complaints. The permit indicates that the wall is slated to stretch 3,300 feet along the front of Zuckerberg’s property and will remain less than 6 feet tall.
A representative for Zuckerberg could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But the New York Post quoted a statement from a representative of Zuckerberg’s Kauai project that said the wall is being built to reduce highway and road noise.
“The sound barrier follows all regulated rules and regulations by the county and our entire team remains committed to ensuring that any development respects the local landscape and environment and is considerate of neighbors,” the statement said, according to the Post.
Koolau Road fronts Zuckerberg’s property and runs below Kuhio Highway. Other portions of the road have tall trees or other foliage that block distant ocean views, while some parts feature pastures with a blue ocean backdrop.
Sandy Smith Malish, a homeowner on Koolau Road, sympathizes with neighbors whose views are being blocked but thanked Zuckerberg on Facebook after he had trees on his property cut and restored an ocean view that Malish had lost years ago.
Malish said the property’s prior owner put up a 6-foot-high berm along the road and topped it with trees that blocked her view. Now the wall in place of the trees is an improvement for her. “It’s actually prettier,” she said.