A Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach Question

What was the problem Palm Beach had with anyone taking fixed residency at Mar-a-Lago?

It’s Mar-a-Lago, as in “Sea to Lake”.

I’ve rendered your comment moot :slightly_smiling_face:

As I understand it, it’s basically a zoning issue – Palm Beach did (does?) not want commercial hotels or multi-family residences in certain residentially zoned districts (which included Mar-a-Lago) and, so, they weren’t permitted uses.

Palm Beach does allow for “private clubs,” but only allows employee housing, not member/guest housing. They do allow for “guest rooms” and I’m entirely sure how that is different from a hotel, but one of the restrictions appears to be how many nights any guest can stay in one.

So, as a general matter, when Mar-a-Lago was converted from a single family residence to a private club, one of the conditions was that there would be no “living quarters” other than for bona fide employees. In order to convert Mar-a-Lago from a single family residence to a private club, Trump had to apply for approval and the approval agreement included a temporal restriction on the use of the guest suites as one of its conditions.

Right. They did not want here to be a lot of coming-and-going so there could only be a few club-member guests at a time, and for very limited time (difference w. a hotel: a hotel accommodates the general public, not just members).

In the end, seems that it turns out under the relevant regulation Sole Owners would be considered part of a business’ staff anyway.

Extensive further discussion in this thread from earlier in the year.

That makes perfect sense, of course. Thank you.

IIRC the rule was nobody stays for more than 30 days at any one time, and nobody stays for cumulative 180 days per year. Thus it did not become a “residence” for any members.

A more interesting conundrum would be if the owner living at a club as a “staff member” made it his “personal residence” and as such is it immune from being seized in bankruptcy? Some article I read mentioned OJ Simpson also owns a $25M residence in Florida, and under Florida bankruptcy law, it cannot be seized by someone, such as the Goldmans, to whom he owes a boatload of money.

I think pretty clearly no. The Florida constitution protects a “homestead” (limited in size, but not value) from being subject to forced sales or judgments or liens, etc. (with some exceptions). (Not that is matters, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with bankruptcy law). I don’t know what a homestead is, but it’s almost certainly not employer-provided housing that you don’t own. Nor would it logically be a business (even a club) that you do own. It may seem odd that Palm Beach’s zoning regulations explicitly contemplated that employer-provided housing at these clubs would extend to people with ownership in the underlying company and/or corporate officers, but the principal is the same. If the groundskeeper is allowed to live some place, the fact that he lives there does not make the business for which he works his “homestead.”

Knowing his history, I always presumed that Trump sought this classification so that he would pay lower property taxes on Mar-A-Largo than he would pay as a personal residence. Also, as he’s now living there, as an ‘employee’, the corporation/private club provides his living expenses as a business expense, thus deductible to them, and not taxable income to him. (Not that he seems to pay any income taxes.)

Also, a future option, If ever a bankruptcy happens, he can ty to claim this as his legal ‘homestead’, thus exempted from any bankruptcy assets. Seems contradictory, but he’s gotten away with that many times in the past – claiming a property is worth $10 million for property tax assessment, while also claiming it’s worth $30 million when applying for a bank mortgage on the property.

The other issue would be - if he owns the club-not-home “Mar-a-Lago” or owns the company that owns it, that asset would be liable to seizure and auctioned off during a bankruptcy proceedings… As would be several of his other “homes”? Something like a company that owns a home means it’s not his, so not his homestead?