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Facebook CEO Zuckerberg dropping lawsuits to acquire Kauai parcels


    Pilaa Beach, center, below hillside and ridgetop land owned by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, near Kilauea on the north shore of Kauai, as seen on Jan. 15. Zuckerberg is dropping his “quiet title” lawsuits to acquire parcels of kuleana land on Kauai’s north shore following criticism from Kauai residents and others.

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.”

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  • If the Zuck really cares about Kauai he would use some of his vast wealth to help the charities on that island. He is a cynical, horrid person who has done zilch. His bad character and reputation speak for themselves.

  • The County of Kauai should condemn a strip of land in his property to assure public beach access. It should also condemn the parcels he was sueing over, and turn them into a Kahana Valley-type living park, where the public can visit and the Native Hawaiian families get to continue living there. But the County would own it and not private parties, so the County can prohibit any further development of the parcels. It’s a win-win for everyone.

    • Condemnation requires the State to compensate Zuckerberg for the taking. The State probably can’t afford $30 million or whatever the fair compensation would be.

      • Zukerberg already said he planned to preserve the parcels in their natural state. What is fair compensation for land that you assured people would never be built on? Probably not $30 million.

        • You are missing the big picture. People of his status have serious concerns about privacy and people who would do him or his family harm due to his status.

          Paparazzi would be the first to exploit this weakness. Others would follow like stalkers.

          Allowing homes inside his property without control over who goes there is dead on arrival.

          Next time look at the big picture.

        • “People of his status have serious concerns about privacy” — and native people have serious concerns about preserving their historic and customary practices, and access to the ocean. That’s why the County needs to condemn the land. By your own arguments, the public can’t trust the Zukerbergs to ensure traditional practices and ocean access continue.

  • In my opinion this is worst than the TMT and everyone for TMT ought to point their efforts on Kauai and protest the boorish attempt to jettison native landowners them from their a’ina by force.

    Look further and look closely at that Star Advertiser photo. It is pristine, fertile, untouched land and it is going to get plowed under for what I imagine to be some 34 room mansion. The last thing we need is some eccentric private billionaire here in-state. Tell him to sell his land and move on.

  • Don’t know Zuckerberg but wish I did.. For a mainland Haole, he has class. His actions show that he’s very sensitive to local issues and is willing to accept them. Kauai Island is lucky to have him in their community.

    • Oh, PLEASE! He’s just another rich mainland haole who comes here, buys up the best property, stays for a while, then sells it for enormous profits. This all contributes to driving the costs of real estate further and further out of reach of our keiki. Give me a break and please dispense with the “Kauai Island is lucky to have him in their community.” Makes me want to puke.

  • Anyone tries to confrontationally assert their Kuleana rights and go on the land, thereby interrupting his seclusion, he files his lawsuit again against that person (and terminates their facebook page). Otherwise, smart move. Likely outcome? All the living relatives get to go to the beach or gather stuff by appointment, during certain “open dates”, under supervision, must show ID upon entry at the side gate. But, get less money than they would have if the lawsuits continued. Activists probably cost the Kuleana owners money.

  • I simply find it hard to believe that with all the resources and local attorneys he had to even initiate the lawsuit that he did not even have an inkling of what he was getting into. I think he thought wrongly that he could buy out people who had a say about he properties involved.

    • Agreed. And it makes you wonder what his attorneys were telling him. He might have had a “legal” argument, but not a “pono” one and they did him a disservice by not telling him so. But, of course, they’re attorneys who can construct an argument that “1,000 angels can f=dance on the head of a pin” if you pay them enuf money. Just goes top prove, again, that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

  • I now have much respect for this man… unlike other rich folks, he admitted his error and willing to work with the community to do things right. He could have easily bought everyone out… but chose not to… again much respect for him.

  • I’ve not read any other comments on this article so this is a virgin posting . Mr. Zuckerberg shows a man of integrity in addition to his intelligence. His previous life history since becoming a person known for his vast wealth, has always been with sincerity and trustworthiness. Our assurances of his continued fairness on this subject will surely be honored by him. Good luck to all involved!

  • It will be interesting to see if all of this can be undone, fixed or forgotten by the community – Lots of emotion and not a good start at being new to the neighborhood

  • I’m impressed that he did what was pono. With the amount of money and resources he has, he could have easily gone to court and outlasted everyone involved. I’m a big believer in – just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. He could, and he didn’t. VERY cool.

    • Yes, do no believe he was personally involved in the original negotiations or the law suits. The delay may have perk his curiosity and contacting his representative became aware of the messy land grab and backed off. Being a good neighbor pays off in much “aloha” rather than the alternative in the long run.

  • He’ll get the land one way or another. Money talks. It always has and always will. However, I do believe the guy has done a lot of good in his lifetime and deserves the benefit of the doubt.

  • Makes me think when U2 had to cancel their concert at Aloha Stadium because of a family emergency. They ended up coming back to play their concert and brought Pearl Jam with them. Unreal show. U2 made things right for cancelling the show.
    Zuckerberg should come back to make things right with the people of Kauai. Something sincere.

  • I hope that the owners of the small parcels sell to Zuckerberg. It’s a beautiful property and it takes some one like Zuckerberg to protect the property. I think someday he may return the property for the people of Kauai to enjoy. Other wise the property will be sold to developers and the whole area will be filled with hotels and condos. The Rockefeller family protected some of the land at the Grand Tetons and now the area is a National Park.

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