Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will no longer pursue litigation intended to buy up small parcels of land on Kauai from kamaaina families to enhance the seclusion of his 700-acre estate on the Garden Isle.
Zuckerberg announced his decision to drop eight quiet title lawsuits in a letter to the editor sent to The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai.
“Upon reflection, I regret that I did not take the time to fully understand the quiet title process and its history before we moved ahead,” he wrote. “Now that I understand the issues better, it’s clear we made a mistake.”
Zuckerberg filed the lawsuits Dec. 30. The complaints targeted 13 parcels that are mostly one acre in size or smaller and are known as kuleana lands, which give every owner rights that include access to the property and water as well as residential use. These kuleana parcels, originally awarded to residents of Hawaii by Hawaiian government officials under the Kuleana Act of 1850, are all within the 700 acres Zuckerberg purchased two years ago for around $100 million.
The billionaire co-founder of Facebook said he heard from many community members who conveyed the cultural and historical significance of these kuleana lands after he filed the lawsuits in state court.
“We understand that for Native Hawaiians, kuleana are sacred and the quiet title process can be difficult,” he said in his letter, which the newspaper published today. “We want to make this right, talk with the community, and find a better approach. To find a better path forward, we are dropping our quiet title actions and will work together with the community on a new approach.”
Zuckerberg’s decision came after an initial story in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last week that was first to publicly disclose and detail one of the eight lawsuits.
On Tuesday, Zuckerberg announced that he was “reconsidering” his litigation. On Thursday, the Star-Advertiser published details of the other seven lawsuits that involved adverse possession claims, a contention that people before Zuckerberg who claimed to own some kuleana parcels or surrounding lands had acquired possession of the kuleana parcels just by openly using them for 10 or 20 years without opposition.
“The right path is to sit down and discuss how to best move forward,” Zuckerberg said in his letter. “We will continue to speak with community leaders that represent different groups, including Native Hawaiians and environmentalists, to find the best path. We love Kauai and we want to be good members of the community for the long term. Thank you for welcoming our family into your community.”