Donald Trump spent nearly one-quarter of his first 100 days as president at his Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, according to a New York Times analysis of the president's travels. The amount of time Trump spends outside of the White House has been the source of consternation for the president's critics — and even some of his allies. Fellow Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa told constituents at a recent town hall, "I do wish that he would spend more time in Washington, D.C. That’s what we have the White House for."
Most Americans appear to agree with the senator. According to a Quinnipiac poll released April 20, 55 percent of respondents said that Trump spends too much time at properties, like Mar-a-Lago, that are owned by his company; only 34 percent disagreed.
Trump's many Florida trips have also been a cause for concern among some Palm Beach County residents, like Suzy Wilkoff, who owns a productivity consultant firm in the area. Wilkoff, who is a Democrat and voted for Hillary Clinton, has noticed some major changes to her town that affect people, regardless of whom they supported in the election.
She tells Bustle she resides across the lagoon from Mar-a-Lago and that the president's many trips to her neighborhood have caused significant disruptions for his neighbors. "For me and for, I would say, a lot of my neighbors, it has been challenging," Wilkoff says, citing the sudden road closures and influx of news media that accompany the president on his trips to Mar-a-Lago.
Security detail closing off roads also leaves some Palm Beach residents unable to go about their daily business, according to Wilkoff. "I think even some of the people who voted for him are a little bit upset about it," she says. "Anytime you have to plan where you’re going an hour earlier just to make sure you get there, it doesn’t matter who you voted for — it’s a disruption."
"When you see that big black gun sticking up and then when he gets close to the building and it's, like, pointing up at your building... that's a little disconcerting."
These disruptions have also interfered with her work as a small business owner. The closure of A1A, a major east Florida thoroughfare, significantly complicated what should have been a simple trip for a client meeting, she says. "If you have to go out of your way to do your work, it's a little bit troubling," Wilkoff says.
Wilkoff says that during the president's trips to Mar-a-Lago, armed Coast Guard boats patrol the Intercoastal, in clear view of her home. "When you see that big black gun sticking up and then when he gets close to the building and it's, like, pointing up at your building... that's a little disconcerting," she says.
"I get that the president has to be protected, but it's just scary," she adds. "I'm literally frightened when he comes to town."
Complaints like Wilkoff's may be motivating a recent decline in home prices in the area. "A lot of my clients are complaining about the traffic nightmares and intimidating presence of security," souther Florida broker Senada Adzem told CNBC. Per that CNBC report:
Moreover, road closures and security measures come at a price — and so far, some of that cost seems to be left to Palm Beach County citizens. The Palm Beach Post reported in April that Trump's visits south cost the city nearly $4 million. "That's my tax money. That's everybody in my county. That's our tax money," Wilkoff says.
A federal budget deal reached Sunday might enable local government to be reimbursed by the federal government for the costs of protecting Trump, though of course the costs of protecting the president will still be shouldered by taxpayers.
"You better wish that if you have a presidential candidate in your neighborhood, that if he gets elected, he decides to stay in the White House where he belongs."
Palm Beach County residents may be on the brink of a reprieve. The Mar-a-Lago club will close for the season on May 14, at which point the president is predicted to shift his vacations northward, to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
However, the damage may already be done for some Floridians. After a hectic winter season, Wilkoff says she is thinking of moving away.
"It's awful," she says of living near Mar-a-Lago during Trump's presidency. "You better wish that if you have a presidential candidate in your neighborhood, that if he gets elected, he decides to stay in the White House where he belongs."