June 30, 2016
Realtor.com quoted me in Mark Zuckerberg Annoys His Neighbors by Building a Big Wall. It opens,
They say good fences make good neighbors, but that’s definitely not the case for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Word has it he’s been building a 6-foot wall around his 700-acre property in Kilauea, Kauai—and this construction has sparked an outcry among his neighbors, who say the wall obstructs the gorgeous ocean view.
“It’s immense,” longtime resident Gy Hall told West Hawaii Today. “It’s really sad that somebody would come in and buy a huge piece of land, and the first thing they do is cut off this view that’s been available and appreciated by the community here for years.”
To make their annoyance known, neighbors have resorted to posting messages on Zuckerberg’s wall—the real wall, not the virtual one on his Facebook profile—asking (mostly) politely for him to take it down. But the signs get removed soon after they appear (most likely by the tech giant’s henchmen).
Granted, it does seem to be a bit of a travesty when a billionaire swoops in and builds a wall that blocks ocean vistas that have been enjoyed by Hawaiians for centuries. So, what are the rules, exactly, on building walls or fences on your property? Can you build whatever you want, or might he have overstepped his bounds?
“Fence and wall limits are generally set by local laws, and residential properties generally have a maximum allowable height,” says David Reiss, research director at the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School. “Common limits are 6 feet for backyard fences and 4 feet for front-yard fences.”
That said, in relatively unpopulated areas like Kauai, it’s certainly possible that no laws exist at all.