Every day that President-elect Donald Trump spends in his Midtown high-rise, New York City pays roughly $500,000 to keep him safe.
That, at least, is the official figure estimated by the city, which asked for $35 million in compensation for Trump Tower security between Trump’s election and inauguration. At a city council meeting Tuesday, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Management and Budget Vincent Grippo said that the city expects the same cost-per-day whenever Trump is in town post-election, too, Gothamist reports. One problem with that figure: Only $7 million is promised from the federal government as yet.
“The bottom line is none of that comes from our existing overtime budget,” Grippo said.
And the direct costs, like city police stationed around the building, aren’t the only ones that have New Yorkers worried. Business leaders also showed up at the Tuesday meeting to decry the street closings and pedestrian barriers in Midtown, according to Crain’s New York Business. Tom Cusick, president of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, said he estimates that businesses around Trump Tower have lost $40 million since the election due to security measures.
Cities often have to provide security for presidential dwellings. According to New York Daily News, the Chicago Police Department spent $2.2 million to protect Barack Obama’s home between his 2008 election and the following April.
But Trump’s housing situation is unique. The Obamas moved into the White House shortly after the election. Trump plans on moving to D.C. in January, but his wife plans to stay in Trump Tower with the couple’s 10-year-old son while he finishes the school year. There’s also the fact that the Obamas’ Chicago home was a single-family house, and securing a Manhattan high-rise presents extra challenges.
All that is to say, officers are needed around Trump Tower, and some officials are voicing uncertainty over what that will mean for the city’s budget long-term.
“Tell me what happens if we say we just can’t afford it,” Queens Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland said at the Tuesday meeting, according to Gothamist.
He’s not the only one looking forward: Janette Sadik-Khan, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, sees an opportunity for a design solution.
“Presidential elections have consequences, and this one will affect New York City more than any in recent memory,” Sadik-Khan wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Monday.
She pointed out that Trump often flew back to New York late at night during the campaign so as to “wake up in his own bed,” and added that the city could essentially become a second presidential seat. She suggested that creating a pedestrian center outside Trump Tower, akin to the car-free Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, could help create a civic sphere and boost business in the area.
For now, though, some aren’t optimistic about the unusual arrangement.
On Tuesday, The Partnership for New York City’s Kathryn Wylde told City Council that the area “has the look and feel of an occupied zone.”
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.