March 24, 2017

Hawaii bill compels mediation for Zuckerberg-type land deals

21 January 2017, 12:42 | Erica Wilson

Zuckerberg files lawsuit against native Hawaiians to force land sales

Mark Zuckerberg sues hundreds of Hawaii families to force them to sell their land

Chief executive officer of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Mark Zuckerberg, has moved to clear the air concerning a couple of lawsuits he had filed after purchasing land in Hawaii.

The billionaire social media kingpin bought his 750 acre retreat in 2014 and then brought up another two areas of land - including the 393 acre Pila'a beach. Essentially, it means that those who have some ownership of Zuck's land-and it can be as small as one-hundredth of one percent, according to Star-Advertiser-can lay claim to it. The legal action, known as "quiet title and partition", is not uncommon in Hawaii, but its use over the years has reduced Native Hawaiian landownership through forced sales of the kind Zuckerberg is seeking.

The type of lawsuit being filed by Zuckerberg's lawyers, known as a "quiet title" claim, has roots in the decline of large United States agribusiness in the past three decades, according to a 2012 report from the Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law. By filing a quiet title action, Zuckerberg does aim to find all land owners, but once they have been notified of their claims, a judge will likely order the land to be sold at public auction. But the Facebook creator insists the suits are standard for the type of purchase he's making.

Zuckerberg asserts that he wants to create a home on the island and "help preserve the wildlife and natural beauty".

This is the legislative process used to establish ownership of land where inheritance has occurred over generations and there is no formal documentation or title deeds.

He continued: 'For most of these folks, they will now receive money for something they never even knew they had.

According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, local lawyers say that while quiet title actions do occur in Hawaii, they can be hard for locals to defend because they require extensive research and funds. "In some cases, co-owners may not even be aware of their interests".

"It is important to us that we respect Hawaiian history and traditions", Zuckerberg wrote.

Here on Maui, quiet title cases have included long-fought battles over ancestral rights to land at Honolua and an ongoing case involving Kahoma Valley and other parcels in West Maui.

The paradise islands of Hawaii has always been popular with honeymooners, surfers and billionaires seeking stunning surroundings and seclusion, including no other than Silicon Valley's slickest resident Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Last year, an earlier fuss arose when Zuckerberg erected a wall on the property that obstructed views of the ocean.

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