- Kristina Webb Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The security zone would go into effect when Trump, a member of his family or another person needing Secret Service protection visits Trump’s lavish Palm Beach estate. It would include the Intracoastal and Atlantic waters from the southern tip of Everglades Island to the north of the club, to about 1,000 yards south of the Southern Boulevard bridge over the Intracoastal.
The Coast Guard implemented temporary security zones on each of Trump’s two visits to Mar-a-Lago as president-elect and seven visits since taking office. The permanent security zones in the proposed rule mirror the restrictions put in place for those trips.
The public was able to comment on the proposed rule, which was published June 20 in the Federal Register, through mid-July. Fourteen comments have been published in the rule’s online docket. Whether the 14 comments posted online are all that were received is unclear. A request for comment from the Coast Guard has not been returned.
While some commenters sought clarification on the proposal, many expressed concern for nearby residents who may not be able to launch their boats from their docks.
“One of the desirable features of our property is the ability to kayak north along the shoreline amidst the bird sanctuary islands, away from the boat traffic on the west side of Lake Worth,” wrote commenter Jennifer Dattels, who said she lives about a mile south of Mar-a-Lago. “This ability will no longer exist with this new security proposal.”
Another commenter requested clarification on how the rule may “adversely affect” the local economy. Yet another included research paper-style citations for information mentioned within her comment.
The Coast Guard spent more than $6.6 million for helicopters, anti-terror patrols, and machine gun-equipped cutters and patrol boats to protect the president during his two trips to Palm Beach as president-elect and his seven trips to Mar-a-Lago since taking office, The Washington Post has reported.
The Palm Beach Post requested the same information from the Coast Guard on April 11. The Coast Guard has not fulfilled the request, or six others on various topics that The Post has submitted to it under the Freedom of Information Act during the last two years.
Below is the full text of each comment, as listed in the Federal Register. Phone numbers and addresses have been removed.
“I have read with great distress in the Palm Beach Daily News about the proposed permanent Coast Guard security zones around Mar-a-Lago.
“I reside on a waterfront lot … (approximately 1 km. south of Mar-a-Lago). One of the desirable features of our property is the ability to kayak north along the shoreline amidst the bird sanctuary islands, away from the boat traffic on the west side of Lake Worth. This ability will no longer exist with this new security proposal.
“While I wholly support the need to protect the president while he is in residence, I fail to understand this security measure becoming a permanent inconvenience.
“All waterfront properties within and close to the zones need to be formally consulted without having to read about such proposals in a daily newspaper. The lake is not just for motor boats, but kayaks also.”
“While I understand and support the need to protect our President and all of the elected officials who serve this great nation, I am greatly troubled by the proposed rule as I worry that it stems from a selfish act on the part of the President. The President should not be conducting state business in this location and while I agree that he should be granted the standard protections, I do not feel that the people of this country should be burdened by additional security costs due to the President’s desire to maintain a life of luxury. The role of President is one of service and should be treated as such. Understanding that the choice to frequent this area places an additional burden on the people he serves, I would hope the President would be mindful of his decision to visit the Palm Beach area and the potential effects his presence has on the average American.”
“As I understand this, the temporary security zones become ‘permanent’ only when the President, First Family or persons receiving Secret Service protection are present at Mar-a-Lago - they are not permanent as in restricting use of the waters 24/7/365. In other words it is only the rule that is permanently in place. This is a reasonable administrative change so that the Coast Guard does not need to do an ad hoc rule every time the President is at the property.
“As for the larger issue of protecting Mar-a-Lago, though persons using the affected waters may be inconvenienced, the safety of the President and official guests must take precedence.”
“A significant regulatory action as defined by 3(f)(1) of Executive Order 12866 is defined by a regulatory action that is likely to result in a rule that may…’adversely affect in a material way the economy.’
“Can you please clarify why (1) this rule will NOT adversely affect the economy, and (2) why making this a Rule that shall be use government resources to enforce, is required or provides a cost benefit to the Citizens, in lieu of ‘temporary security zones’ as referenced in Paragraph II of Supplementary Information.”
“My name is Thomas Machate I am a Police Officer with the Town of Palm Beach Police Department marine unit. I have spoke to residents in the area near the Mar-a-lago club and would like to pass along their concerns. The residents that I have spoken with would like a safety zone set up in the water in the area around Mar-a-lago. This could easily be done the way it is currently around the Florida Power and Light power plant in West Palm Beach by placing floating buoys in the frozen area advising boaters that this area is not accessible.
“My concerns are that by dredging this area and not having a safety zone in place is that it will attract sailboaters to this area creating a safety concern as these boaters are not always on board their vessels as well as disposing of sanitation waste. When the secret service attempts to shut this area down when the president is at Mar-a-lago we could have so many vessels in this area, and that we would have no place to put them. This would be extremely time consuming. I also am concerned about the safety of Mar-a-lago. Without the safety zone boaters will be able to just pull up to the seawall at Mar-a-Lago and walk right onto the Presidents winter residence.”
“Before reading this docket, I was not in favor of such a proposed rule of having more security and inconveniencing the taxpayers to allow our president the opportunity of more vacation time. However, once I read the docket, I have formed a better understanding of the situation. This proposed rule is to merely have a plan in place for when the president is there. This proposed rule will allow the community, both off and on land, to know what waterways they must avoid or the procedures to be granted permission to cross into the protected areas. I believe having this proposed rule in pace will be more beneficial to the taxpayers and citizens as long as they are properly informed when the heightened security measures are in place. It is much easier to enforce an established well planned rule than to fly by the seat of your pants at the last minute.”
“Dear Federal employees etc. who read these replies, thank you u for your service an attention.
“I agree with the proposed safe zone as a Palm beach County/City of Lake Worth resident.
“We must keep any presidential administration safe… case closed on my part.
“I do have issue with the finrs for first violation. Within reading and using whatever means necessary to determine suspicious behavior or probable cause:in lieu of these determined parameter, may 1st warning be a reduced fine for the 1st year.
“There are many on our waterways extremely inept at keeping up with current guidelines… Let us relive them if no intent is found, for a vastly reduced citation.
“I’m all for safety and security and do not have issue with any inconvenience in order to protect our President, now or in future terms.
“I thank you for your quest for local and citizen input.
“Thank you for your time and service to our country.”
“I am a resident of West Palm Beach and live in close proximity to Mar a Lago, on the intracoastal.
“My issue with the security zones are that they limit recreation in the intracoastal when Trump is down here which is a lot more often than any of us thought it would be. Unlike what the newspaper reported, the intracoastal does get use other than as a ‘boat highway’.
“Currently, we aren’t allowed to paddleboard or kayak unless we are acting like a boat, moving in a straight line in the channel, which is both impractical and dangerous (and difficult!).
“I would like to see non-motorized vessels open to within a short range of the club, maybe 50’ or so from the Mar a Lago seawall. This would also open Palmsicle Island to recreation when he is in residence.
“Personally, since I live right across the water, I would like to be able to take the kayak or paddle boards out and back to Palmsicle island when he is in residence, or over to the beach on the causeway.
“I would also like to mention that the way the coast guard speeds towards boaters is unnecessary and needlessly intimidating. I understand that they wish to escort boats up and down the channel, but having a coast guard boat speed towards you with a guy standing in the front manning a huge gun is not acceptable. Also, unless the boat has already been through the gauntlet, they think they should slow down and prepare to stop, which is exactly the opposite of what the coast guard wants boaters to do. It sends a really aggressive, unfriendly, and unneighborly message, and I would like to see that procedure changed.”
“As a neighbor to the Mar-a-Lago Club, we were not able to use our boat on several occasions this past winter. We were approached by security boats that told us that if we left the area we could not return. When we explained that we lived here and we would have to return, we were told that we would not be allowed to return.
“It seems crazy that neighbors can not enjoy their boats and waterways just because Mr. Trump is now the President.
“We very much disagree with the Trump Security Zones on the waterway that we have been able to enjoy over the past 20 years.”
“As far as general comment, I understand the need for the protection outlined when the President is in town - notwithstanding the fact that it is very alarming that the country, state and town are subjected to the inconvenience and cost of these all too frequent visits.
“Specifically, we are residents that live on the inter-coastal right on the actual northern border line of the proposed “center” zone and I am still unclear as to what is allowed. This past year we were unable to use our kayak, paddle boards but we were allowed to use our jet skis. We also were sometimes allowed to have our boat (which sits in a slip in harbour) come pick us up at the dock and sometimes not. The rules as to how we could come and go seemed to change each week. I realized you are trying to put some order into this process and take any guesswork out of it but the way I read it now, we have to call the Port Commander each time we want to leave?
“What did work fairly well, is that we communicated with the specific coast guard boats that were out in front of our property and they let us come and go in a reasonable fashion.
“Good Luck and thank you for the consideration for all citizens!”
“I am completely opposed to restricting portions of the land or air around Mar-a-Lago at any time. The Secret Service can guard the house and leave everything else alone. Nobody is going to hurt this idiot because then we’d be stuck with Pence, who is even more of a threat to this country! The Intracoastal and the ocean provide thousands of tourists and natives with pleasurable time on the water. One man and his family should not be allowed to change that.”
“Will there be obvious signage on the bridge and in the area advising those who kayak when POTUS or those under the security are “in house?” Will the Coast Guard display ensigns so people will not make innocent mistakes and wander into the zone? It would save the Coast Guard time and effort. That little lagoon area by the Southern Blvd bridge is a very convenient spot for kayakers. Mara Lago also has a huge flagpole that could hang a POTUS flag.
“God Bless Donald Trump.
“Thank you for your time.”
“This is not fair to the many neighbors in this area who are not allowed to use their boats any longer.”
“Department of Homeland Security
“United States Coast Guard
“RE: Docket No. USCG-2017-0016
“I am writing to comment on the proposed modification of 33 C.F.R. Part 165. This proposed change will restrict usage of public waterways in the vicinity of the Mar-a-Lago Club (located in Palm Beach County) when the president, or other members of his entourage, visit the area. The reason behind this proposal is to provide protection from such acts such as: terrorism, sabotage, or “other subversive acts.”
“I believe this rule will effect businesses in the area which heavily rely on tourist dollars. The analysis of this change anticipates the president and/or other protected individuals will primarily visit the Mar-a-Lago area in the autumn months. The autumn months are a time when the weather in Florida begins to cool down, and attracts tourists looking for a warm, pleasant place to vacation, as well as “snow birds” (individuals who reside in Florida during the cold season). One of the primary draws of Florida is the boating and fishing (“Florida Quick Facts”). The creation of the security zone will discourage tourists from visiting the area, and local businesses will lose revenue. As of April, 2017, since his inauguration, the president spent twenty-three days in Palm Beach (Carter). It can be estimated that he will spend approximately 45 days in Mar-a-Lago (based on 25 days a quarter) during the autumn and winter months. $193.00 tourist dollars per tourist, per day (“Florida Travel Costs & Prices.”), could add up to a tremendous amount of lost revenue for the local business owner.
“In addition to the loss of revenue, the creation of a security zone may impact people who may wish to protest from their boats. This is a direct violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment freedom of speech protection.
“In conclusion, I believe if this rule is placed into effect, it will harm local citizens who rely on tourist dollars as their primary source of income.
“Carter, Brandon. ‘Trump visits Mar-a-Lago resort for 23rd day as president.’ The Hill. Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., 14 Apr. 2017. Web.
“’Florida Quick Facts.’ State of Florida.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 July 2017.
“’Florida Travel Costs & Prices.’ Budget Your Trip, 24 July 2016. Web. 04 July 2017.”