Can Trump live in Mar-a-Lago? Palm Beach leans Yes

PALM BEACH, Fla. – The relationship between former President Donald J. Trump and his adopted Florida hometown has been troubled from the beginning: Mr. Trump is considered a bull by Palm Beach officials in a porcelain store whose presence was once barely tolerated. Things improved somewhat while he was in the White House, the city moving to its most famous, part-time winter resident.

Now that he had returned as a private citizen for three weeks, Palm Beach was forced to deal with a question he closed his eyes while Mr. Trump was in office: is he allowed to stay full-time in his private home at the a-Lago Club?

The answer seems to be yes.

On Tuesday, when Mr. Trump’s second trial began in the U.S. Senate, the Palm Beach City Council met through Zoom to discuss whether Mr. Trump had violated a 1993 agreement that allowed him to mar -Lago property is transformed into a private apartment in a money-making club.

Conservation advocates and some of their neighbors argued that the agreement required Mar-a-Lago to operate as a social club in which no one could live.

“This issue threatens to make Mar-a-Lago a constant beacon for its crazier, illegal devotees,” said Philip C. Johnston, a lawyer for a group called Preserve Palm Beach, citing Mr. Trump.

City attorney John C. Randolph believed that nothing in the agreement explicitly prohibited Mr. Trump from using the property as a residence – if Mr. Trump is considered an employee of Mar-a-Lago as president of the club.

“The language governing the limited use of members’ guest suites in the agreement is not applicable to this situation, ”Randolph said.

The city council did not vote. But it was clear that members were reluctant to fight the former president if he wanted to live here all year long. South Florida will show up in February, but less so in August.

“It doesn’t seem like an infringement to me,” said Margaret A. Zeidman, chairman of the board.

In the case of a rare island of obstruction, which is acknowledged at its discretion, talking about a mere debate filled officials with horror. An earlier item on the agenda was a description of the concept of a badly sized car park along Worth Avenue, the city’s designer-lined shopping strip. (Valet parking is preferred.) What you need to do in Mr. Trump’s case was the last topic.

“I can only hope that courtesy, courtesy and partnership will come into the community again,” Mayor Gail L. Coniglio said at the beginning of the meeting.

John B. Marion, Trump’s attorney, warned that if Mr. Trump is banned from staying in Mar-a-Lago, he could move into one of several other homes nearby, which means more security for neighbors. .

Ever since he last flew from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on the morning of January 20, Mr. Trump has spent time playing golf or meeting people in Mar-a-Lago. He was videotaped on Sunday night to appear during the Super Bowl among club guests, wearing a suit, as almost always at the club.

On Tuesday, a masked law enforcement officer stood guard at the entrance to Mar-a-Lago. Some of Trump’s campaign signs remained high on the electric poles along the old presidential highway in West Palm Beach.

After Mr. Trump’s neighbors presidency, they would have been more welcome if he hadn’t incited his supporters, who then stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, said Laurence Leamer, a longtime resident of Palm Beach who wrote a book about Mar-a-Lago.

“Most of the people who voted for it on the island voted for it because they want low taxes and a roaring stock market,” he said. “But with the uprising, people didn’t want to be around him.”

There’s a rumor that members of Mar-a-Lago are no longer going to the club and they plan to expire their membership, but “no one wants to say that in public,” Mr Leamer said.

“Charities will not return,” he predicted, referring to organizations that held fundraising events at the club. “It’s not worth risking because you know at least half of the members won’t be happy with the choice of venue.”

But in Palm Beach County, others believe bigger issues need to be addressed.

Jennifer McGrath of Jupiter sent a letter to the editor of The Palm Beach Daily News of the month criticizing the paper because she thought she had received critical coverage of Mr. Trump.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t angry about living there,” Ms. McGrath said in an interview. “Ridiculous. You have the right to live wherever you live.”

Maggie Haberman contributed to reports in New York. Kitty Bennett contributed to the research.