All indications are that when his term as president ends on Jan. 20 Donald Trump intends to decamp to his Mar-a-Lago private club in Palm Beach, Fla. Earlier this year he changed his legal address to the Florida property.
On Tuesday, however, neighbors of the resort sent the message, delivered via an official filing with the town of Palm Beach, that they don’t want the soon-to-be ex-president living there. A “demand letter,” which also was addressed to the U.S. Secret Service, asserts that Trump gave up his legal right to live full time at Mar-a-Lago when he signed an agreement with the town in the 1990s. That agreement converted the historic estate, built in the 1920s by Marjorie Merriweather Post, from a private residence to a private club. One of the stipulations of that agreement is that Trump could not live there full time.
The demand letter was obtained by The Washington Post. In it, an attorney for the Mar-a-Lago neighbors says the town should notify Trump that he cannot use Mar-a-Lago as his permanent residence. By doing so it would “avoid an embarrassing situation” if the outgoing president moves to the club and later has to be ordered to leave. The letter was sent on behalf of the neighbors, the DeMoss family, which runs an international missionary foundation.
Since his first trip there as president in 2017, Palm Beach residents have complained about clogged traffic and blocked streets due to Secret Service protection protocols. Even before he was elected Trump fell into disfavor with neighbors for refusing to comply with local ordinances, such as by having a massive flagpole installed on the property that exceeded town height regulations.
One of the neighbors who has joined the opposition to Trump, Glenn Zeitz, told The Post, “There’s absolutely no legal theory under which he can use that property as both a residence and a club. Basically he’s playing a dead hand. He’s not going to intimidate or bluff people because we’re going to be there.”
Regardless how long Trump may or may not stay at Mar-a-Lago after leaving office, one thing he will have to contend with is relying on ground transportation to and from the Ocean Boulevard club. Currently he is ferried there via the Marine One helicopter, but the exemption for the construction and use of a helipad on the property that was granted by the town was only “for business relating solely to the office of the president.” After Jan. 20 it must be removed.