KILAUEA — For years, Kilauea resident Gy Hall has enjoyed the view of the ocean and the breeze along Koolau Road. Then, a few weeks ago, a crew started to build a wall which happens to belong to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
“The feeling of it is really oppressive. It’s immense,” Hall said. “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 appreciative by the community here for years.”
Hall said the wall extends along Koolau Road, near mile marker 20, and is about six-feet tall. He said its projected length and completion are unclear.
Shawn Smith, general manager Kauai operations and former manager of Falko Partners, who Hall says sold some of the 700-plus-acre property to the billionaire, told The Garden Island the rock wall’s primary purpose is to mitigate highway and road noise.
“The sound barrier follows all regulated rules and regulations by the county and our entire team remains committed to ensuring that any development is consistent with the local landscape and environment and considerate of neighbors,” Smith wrote in an email Saturday.
“(The crew) put some boards up, so you can see the future projection of the wall and what it will cut off,” Hall said. “It’s quite dramatic because you can see all the pasture land and ocean underneath the boards.”
Shosana Chantara, a Kilauea resident, voiced her concerns about the breeze that’s being obstructed.
“It’s hot behind that wall. Because it’s up on a berm, there’s not a breath of air on this side from the ocean,” Chantara said. “You take a solid wall that’s 10 or more feet above the road level; the breeze can’t go through.”
Chantara said she was one of the residents who spoke with Smith recently.
“He’s very gracious about being willing to meet with people,” she said. “It’s just that he told me very clearly that nothing will change. I’m not quite sure how much that will accomplish, but I am going to meet with him.”
Another Kilauea resident, Donna Mcmillen, calls the wall a “monstrosity.”
“I’m super unhappy about that. I know that land belongs to Zuckerberg. Money is no option for him. I’m 5’8” and when I’m walking, I see nothing but wall,” Mcmillen said. “It just doesn’t fit in with the natural beauty that we have here. There are people on the island who money can pay for anything. These kind of things that they do take away what Kauai is all about.”
However, Thomas Beebe, a neighbor adjacent to the wall, said the border is “attractive.”
“I find that it greatly enhances the natural beauty of the land, appropriately makes use of local materials and serves as a tasteful reminder of an ancient method of defining boundaries,” he wrote in a text message.
Hall said efforts to contact Zuckerberg have been fruitless.
“Somebody has been putting up signs, appealing to Zuckerberg’s generosity and humanity — polite signs on the wall — but those signs just get ripped off as soon as they appear,” he said. “There’s a total disconnect from what the community is concerned about and what he wants.”
Chantara said she’s also attempted to appeal to Zuckerberg, but hasn’t received a response.
“I’ve tried to write a letter to Mr. Zuckerberg more than once. I even met someone on the beach that worked with him,” she said. “In the end he wrote me and said, ‘I know a lot of people close to Mark and none of them are willing to give a letter because they’re afraid of what his response will be.’ That’s a sad statement.”
Maria Maitino, another Kilauea resident, doesn’t understand why the wall needs to be so high.
“It’s not as if it’s going to be more safe for Mark Zuckerberg,” Maitino said. “It feels to me like, ‘This is my property and you don’t have any rights to see it.’ It’s that negative kind of view and that doesn’t feel neighborly.”
Chantara said she wished Zuckerberg spoke to Kilauea residents in the area about the wall before building it.
“It’s a beautiful island, and, by and large, people care for one another. That would include Mark,” she said. “In the case of this wall, all he needs to do is take it down, so people have the view and the breeze back. It would end all discussion. That’s all we’re asking.”
A previous version of this article identified Shawn Smith as a Falko Partners manager and stated the price of the Zuckerberg property at $200 million.