The Coast Guard is seeking formal comment from the public on plans to limit boat traffic outside President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, better known to some as the winter White House.
A notice set for official publication Tuesday asks for feedback on three maritime “security zones” that the agency plans to use to protect Trump and members of his family when they’re visiting Mar-a-Lago.
The zones were used during visits Trump made to Palm Beach earlier this year, but the Coast Guard didn’t formally open a 30-day comment period because security plans were developed too close in time to the visits to permit that, the agency said. The notice suggests that Trump will be scarce at the resort over the summer, but will be visiting more frequently beginning in the fall.
The security restrictions won’t be in force continuously, but solely when Secret Service protectees like the president or first lady are on hand.
“This proposed rule would be enforced during visits by the President of the United States, members of the First Family, or other persons under the protection of the Secret Service,” the notice says. “This action is necessary to protect the official party, the public, and the surrounding waterway from terrorist acts, sabotage or other subversive acts, accidents, or other causes of a similar nature.”
Boats will be allowed to pass through two of the zones farthest from Mar-a-Lago as long as they maintain speed and don’t stop, but those moving through the western half of the Intracoastal Waterway near the resort will need a Coast Guard escort.
The eastern part of the waterway — the zone closest to the resort — will be closed absent special permission.
The notice indicates a willingness to accommodate demonstrators, but is vague on precisely how.
“The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment rights of protesters. Protesters are asked to contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to coordinate protest activities so that your message can be received without jeopardizing the safety or security of people, places,or vessels,” the agency says.
Trump has issued a series of directives aimed at limiting regulations, but the Coast Guard has determined that limiting boat traffic near his winter home doesn’t trigger those anti-regulation policies, including an executive order he signed in January requiring that two regulations be revoked for every new one issued.
The notice says the restrictions on marine traffic don’t amount to a significant regulatory action because the limits will only be in effect during certain times, an average of 152 vessels pass through that part of the waterway on a typical day, and they’ll still be able to go through with an escort.
Violators of the security zones can be punished by a civil fine, with willful violations punishable as a criminal felony.