Letter for Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017

• Zuckerberg will be a good neighbor if given a chance

Zuckerberg will be a good neighbor if Kauai gives him a chance

As someone who has had a family home on Kauai for over 58 years as well as someone who lives four houses away from Mark Zuckerberg in Palo Alto, I initially cringed when I heard about the dispute over the title to various sections of the property he has bought on the North Shore.

Oh no, I thought, suing is not going to bode well for you, Mark, you need to adopt more of an aloha spirit or it will be denied to you and your family when you are there. I wanted to talk to him and dissuade him from a lawsuit.

But, as I have followed the issue, I believe he is trying to do the right thing but being subjected to the knee-jerk antipathy to outsiders that long-term island residents often express.

I believe the lawsuit was an effort to find the owners so that he could pay them generously for their land, not draw them into a costly legal battle. As many of these owners don’t live on Kauai or use their parcels (a 3-foot by 3-foot one?!) , a check would be, I imagine, a godsend.

Claims that he has ruined Palo Alto are dead wrong. He has been a respectful, quiet neighbor and improved the historic house he lives in with tasteful landscaping. I have friends who work for him and his wife, and know neighbors who have been to his house for dinner. In this climate of us vs them, it is incumbent on all of us to move past stereotypes to assess who people really are. Is he evil simply because he is rich? No.

Kauai would not be ruined by Mark Zuckerberg. If my experience here in Palo Alto, as a neighbor and fellow dog owner, are any indication, he will be a quiet, private, understated steward of the land. He could live in a palace here in California. Instead, he lives in the oldest house in town, on a street with neighbors all around and people constantly trying to sneak a peek into his yard. Let him be the decent person he appears to be. I do not know him, but he is my neighbor and I think Kauai should let him be theirs.

Mindy McCaslin, Palo Alto, California

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