San Francisco residents complain as alterations to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s £6.1m second home turns property into sprawling construction site

Anger at noisy refurbishments, people sitting in cars overnight to save spaces for builders’ vehicles and the digging up of pavements to install fibre-optic cable

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The Independent US

Mark Zuckerberg makes plenty of noise whenever Facebook spends a few million on a new acquisition, and it seems his personal purchases are no different. Neighbours have dubbed the Facebook founder’s £6.1m San Francisco home “Fort Zuckerberg”, after seeing the 1920s property transformed into a loud, sprawling construction site.

The work got underway shortly after Mr Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr Priscilla Chan, bought the house in the city’s hip Mission neighbourhood in early 2013 – and is expected to go on until at least the spring next year. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, as many as 40 or 50 labourers have been on the site every day for the past 17 months, using construction equipment as they completely refurbish the interior, and tear up the pavement outside to install fibre-optic cable demanded by the 30-year-old billionaire.

The site is being monitored by 24-hour security staff and CCTV, and the work has also caused parking chaos: four or five coveted spaces are officially reserved for construction vehicles, preventing some residents from parking outside their own properties. One neighbour, Trafton Bean, told CBS San Francisco he had witnessed young people sitting overnight in cars in other spaces. When asked, Mr Bean claimed, the people admitted they were hired by Mr Zuckerberg to save the extra spaces for construction vehicles.

Mr Zuckerberg and his wife have reportedly taken out 10 permits for the modifications to the property, including $750,000 for a rear extension. They are also spending $720,000 on an office, media room, half bathroom, mudroom, laundry room, wine room and wet bar, as well as remodelling the upper floors.

It is costing $25,000 to make the top, fourth, floor of the house legally habitable, and to turn part of the roof into a balcony. Another permit points to a $65,000 refurbishment of the kitchen and six bathrooms. The garage is being fitted with a turntable to make it easier for cars to get in and out.

The site is symbolic of the ongoing tensions between existing San Francisco residents and the newly wealthy technology workers who commute to Silicon Valley. While some neighbours complained anonymously to the Chronicle about the disruption, they were reluctant to get into a public battle with the Facebook CEO. One told the paper, “It’s hard to talk about it without sounding whiny or like the wealthy need to be punished, just because they have money.”

The house is a second home for Mr Zuckerberg, who spends the majority of his time at a $7m mansion in Palo Alto, closer to Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters, which he bought in 2011. That five-bedroom property features a spa, an outdoor “entertainment pavilion”, a salt water swimming pool and a “naturalised pond with waterfall,” according to its estate agent listing. Last year, prompted by privacy concerns, the Zuckerbergs spent upwards of $30m on the four homes that surround their Palo Alto property, after learning a property developer planned to buy one of them and publicise it to buyers as being next-door to the Facebook boss.