While the world was busy trying to fight off supply chain delays for their holiday presents, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sealed the deal on an expensive year-end purchase of his own: a $US17 million (around $24 million) plot of land in Hawaii’s Kauai island. That land grab, first reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, adds to the Zuckerberg family’s already massive presence on the island and will swell their total holdings to around 1,500 acres.
The new land acquisition includes the 100-year-old Ka Loko Reservoir which broke in 2006 resulting in flooding that’s killed at least seven people. That reservoir has yet to be fixed and reportedly still remains on Huawei’s high-risk list of dams. Zuckerberg’s expansive private residence, meanwhile — which exists near a former sugarcane plantation — reportedly includes some farming operations and is referred to with the nickname “Ko‘olau Ranch.”
A spokesperson for Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the family intends to use the new land to expand farming and ranching operations and engage in more wildlife conservation. The family also has multiple lavish residences dotted across the land. Now, Zuckerberg reportedly has building permits in the works for a second primary residence valued at $US35 million (around $48 million) with around 3,334 sq km of living space.
Of course, not everyone is thrilled about the Zuckerbergs’ gobbling up even more rural land. Some local residents have reportedly come to view Zuckerberg and his wife as a “new monarch,” and claim the couple has disrespected the island’s culture and traditions, Insider notes. Members of the Kauai community have also fought back against Zuckerberg and Chan since their initial $US100 million ($138 million) purchase of around 700 acres of land in 2014. (Zuckerberg and Chan purchased an additional 89 million acres in 2018 for $US43.3 million ($60 million) and purchased 89 more acres inland on the island for $US45.3 million ($63 million)). Zuckerberg gained more criticism for reportedly installing a six-foot fall fence around much of his property in an area traditionally known for its openness, angering some residents.
More significantly though, the property came under scrutiny years ago because it includes parcels called “Kuleana lands.” These areas of land are handed down year-over-year to local families which interfered with Zuckerberg’s attempts at creating a truly private residence. Trying to solve this, Zuckerberg reportedly worked through a shell company to advance eight lawsuits and try to pressure residents to sell their land. Enraged residents would later describe these suits as a form of “neocolonialism.”