Zuckerberg Sues to Force Hawaii Locals to Sell Land He Wants

Facebook founder's secluded estate not entirely secluded
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2017 11:37 AM CST
Zuckerberg Sues to Force Hawaii Locals to Sell Land He Wants
This Feb. 21, 2016, file photo sshows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking in Barcelona, Spain.   (AP Photo/Manu Fernadez, File)

Mark Zuckerberg would like his $100 million, 700-acre beachfront property in Kauai to house a secluded estate. The problem: Almost a dozen parcels within those 700 acres are technically owned by Hawaii-born families, meaning they have the right to be on the property. Unless Zuck gets his way—the Facebook founder is suing in an attempt to force those families to sell the land at auction. As the Honolulu Star-Advertiser explains, the "kuleana lands" in question were acquired by Hawaiian citizens in 1850 when the Hawaiian kingdom started allowing land to be privately owned, and have been passed down through generations. In some cases, descendants aren't even aware they own a fraction of an interest in a property. Zuckerberg can attempt to force a sale because, by purchasing interests from some part-owners, he has established his own ownership claim.

Such "quiet title and partition" legal actions as Zuckerberg is pursuing are fairly common in Hawaii. One local lawyer not involved with the case calls the issue "a big problem" in the state, and the Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law has called partition by sale "highly problematic ... because it severs a family’s connection to ancestral land." But a partner at the Honolulu law firm representing Zuckerberg's interests says this is a "standard" process that is simply looking to make sure any co-owners of the land receive "appropriate value for their ownership share." Eight lawsuits have been filed covering a few hundred people. (Zuckerberg has come under fire for an "oppressive" wall around the property.)

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