When the airport considered expanding by adding another runway, Trump threatened another lawsuit.The expansion never came, but Trump sued the airport again this year, this time asking for $100 million from county taxpayers for the sooty residue left by planes flying over Mar-a-Lago.But if history is a guide, this may not be about the airport at all.He may be just using it for leverage to get something else he wants, but at the moment, can’t have.The thing with Trump is that he’s always at war, a man on a mission to get the next thing, whether it’s the biggest pole, the best social gathering of the season, or the idea that the rest of America should be calling him “Mr. President.”And woe be to those who get in his way. First you should know that Palm Beach is a town where measurements matter. Leaf blowers require inspections to verify they emit no more than 65 decibels from 50 feet away. Residents holding a garage sale are restricted to one sign that can’t be more than 4 square feet in size. And residents flying flags on their property are restricted to flagpoles that are no higher than 42 feet and flags that are a maximum of four feet by six feet.In October of 2006, without getting a permit or a variance, Trump put up an 80- foot flagpole on the front lawn of Mar-a-Lago, with a car dealership-sized American flag of 15 feet by 25 feet flying from it.Oh, he knew what he was doing. Trump, after all, had been fighting with the town poohbahs from the very moment he’d crashed into the complacent, clubby world of Palm Beach to buy Mar-a-Lago—the former estate of blue-blooded cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post — which turned out to be one of those great deals he couldn’t afford. More on that later.Trump knew from experience that Palm Beach was a stickler for adherence to its ordinances. He had once paid a $5,000 fine to the town for replacing a section of dead hedges with replacements that weren’t quite tall enough.But Trump had bigger changes in mind than merely out-flagging his neighbors. He was plainly inviting a lawsuit. The town council took the bait, citing the oversized pole and flag as violations of the town code, and fining Trump $250 a day for every day they remained on the estate.“The town council of Palm Beach should be ashamed of itself,” Trump responded. “They’re fining me for putting up the American flag. This is probably a first in United States history.” He went on Nancy Grace’s national TV show to complain that the Town of Palm Beach was unpatriotic. Then, ignoring the town’s violations, which grew to be a $120,000 fine and counting, he filed a lawsuit against Palm Beach, asking for $25 million in damages to what he called an abridgment to his constitutional right to free speech. Tucked into his patriotic posturing was a completely unrelated legal matter that he made part of his multi-million lawsuit: a complaint about the town code that requires large commercial enterprises to be “town serving.” The town requires proof from local businesses that at least 50 percent of their business comes from town residents. So, for example, when Neiman Marcus opened on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, it was allowed to do so by promising that it would only advertise in the town’s newspaper, and not in publications that circulated to shoppers who don’t live on the island.For Trump, eliminating the “town serving” requirement would mean that he could offer more memberships to his Mar-a-Lago social club to people who had no connection to Palm Beach, making it easier for him to keep his club full. Softening up the town on the flag issue to pursue some other angle was classic a Trump move. Though he has yet to get this particular exemption waived, Palm Beach has learned from experience that Trump’s lawsuits are never settled, just dominant. One of his Palm Beach lawyers said recently that the “town serving” issue is still unresolved and ripe for more litigation.As for the flag, guess who won?Trump eventually dropped his lawsuit over the flag, and in exchange the town waived its fines. As terms of a court-ordered mediation, Trump would file for a permit and be allowed to keep an oversized pole on Mar-a-Lago that was 10-feet shorter than original pole and on a different spot on his lawn. The agreement also called for him to donate $100,000 to veterans’ charities.That’s some expensive defiance. But maybe you’ve got look at in a more Trumpian light. He essentially got what he wanted: The biggest pole on Palm Beach. (Paging Dr. Freud?)Advantage, once again, Donald Trump. And for Palm Beachers, just another encounter with the human shock wave from New York. And I still haven’t written the sort of nice column he has been expecting.Two years ago, I wrote a column about him during his frivolous lawsuit against comedian Bill Maher, who said that Trump should produce a birth certificate to prove he’s not related to orangutans.My column quoted an orangutan expert who said that it’s the orangutans, not Trump, who ought to be offended by the comparison.Trump responded via Twitter:“One of the country’s dumbest newspapers—The Palm Beach Post—should be put to sleep. It’s dying.”What’s not dying is Trump’s continued war against Palm Beach International Airport. Palm Beach County agreed by assessing Mar-a-Lago’s property at $11.5 million, 64 percent more than he paid for it. This left Trump in the tough position of bragging publically about getting his spare mansion in Palm Beach for a bargain, while arguing privately in court filings he should get a tax deduction. * * *So it has been all along down here, from the moment in 1985 when Trump decided that Mar-a-Lago would be his personal castle. Mar-a-Lago, the last of Palm Beach’s estates to stretch from the ocean to the Intracoastal Waterway, was a single-family home of gargantuan proportions: Its Mediterranean-Revival-style mansion had 118 rooms, including 58 bedrooms and 33 bathrooms and a 75-foot tower that could be seen for miles. The property was roomy enough for its own 9-hole golf course and citrus grove.Built in 1927 for Post, then the richest woman in America, she later willed it to the federal government to be used as a winter White House for American presidents. The home became a National Historic Landmark. But presidents didn’t use it and the federal government grew weary of paying for the $1 million a year it took to maintain it.So the estate was put up for sale. At the time, Trump was a hotshot 39-year-old New York real estate developer who two years earlier had opened his signature 58-story Trump Tower skyscraper in Manhattan. And the federal government, eager to unload the Florida mansion, agreed to a $10 million sale — $7 million for the property and $3 million for the furnishings — in a contract that required Trump to put down only $2,812 of his own money.A Palm Beach County property appraiser would later write in a court brief that a person buying a “rabbit warren condo” in a lower-middle class neighborhood would have had to put more money down than Trump did. And in his first book, The Art of the Deal, Trump wrote about his purchase of Mar-a-Lago as an example of his deal-making prowess.“I’ve been told the furnishings in Mar-a-Lago alone are worth more than I paid for the house,” he wrote. Mar-a-Lago was “as close to paradise as I’m going to get,” he wrote. Donald Trump’s noisy, rule-breaking entrance into national politics may be a revelation for some. But not for residents of his home town of Palm Beach, Fla., where for the past 30 years he has shattered old-money conventions and sensibilities with the same thin-skinned, sue-you-in-a-heartbeat, self-congratulatory ethos that has made him such a mesmerizing character on the national stage.For decades I’ve watched most of this comedy-drama from my perch at The Palm Beach Post, where I work as a local news columnist on the hunt for humor. And when humor’s your bag, there’s no greater gift than Donald Trump. A gift I must now share, reluctantly, with my countrymen.Where do I begin, America, to tell you what life dominated by The Donald is like — an experience you too will have if he enters the White House? There are many stories, but I think I should start with the flagpole on the front lawn of Mar-a-Lago, the 17-acre Palm Beach property Trump bought decades ago. But after four years of heavy promoting, fewer than half of the units had been sold, and Trump had borrowed $60 million from Marine Midland Bank of New York to pay for the project, money he couldn’t repay.In 1991, two months before he would file for corporate bankruptcy on his Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, Trump turned over Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches to Marine Midland Bank, in exchange for the bank agreeing to forgive Trump for his $14 million personal guarantee on the loan.If it was a humbling moment for Trump, he didn’t act that way. For just as we’ve seen more recently on the campaign trail, no matter what he does — whether it’s embarking on a ridiculous birther quest or poisoning his party’s chances with key voter demographics — Trump is always capable of packaging his own failure as success.So when he lost his West Palm Beach luxury condo to the banks, he took a victory lap.“It’s great for me because I get off a guarantee,” he said. “Only because of the success of the development could I have done that.”But it was hardly a success. Only 100 of the 221 units had been sold. And once the banks took over the project from Trump, they unloaded the unsold units in a fire-sale auction that accepted bids of $75,000 for units that had been previously priced as high as $470,000. As the real guests arrived, which included busloads of fashion models from Miami, I was part of a local media contingent who wasn’t allowed to actually come into the party, but instead would form a visual tableau of over-eager reporters playing the role of gate crashers to those who would see us as their cars drove up to the portico of the mansion.Trump left us standing in his driveway in a little cluster. We were unaware, at first, of our role. But he couldn’t help coming over to wring out every last drop of publicity for the night.“We’re just having a great time in Palm Beach,” Trump said at one point, as he walked to our assigned spot on the driveway. “Everybody is coming. Some people are inviting themselves. It’s going to be a wild party.”Trump, who seemed to be going out of his way to show he was winning his divorce, had invited a national television news reporter Judd Rose, and his crew from ABC’s Prime Time Live show, into his home as guests for the weekend. Rose and his crew eventually filmed the money shot of the invited, but shunned local reporters yelling across the driveway at Trump to let us in, while Trump made shooing gestures with his hand, as if to be waving us off.Rose later told us that we were described by Trump as the people who were inviting themselves to the party. I left, never getting inside that night, and wrote for the next day’s newspaper about my experience as a party prop.Trump called me two days later, saying that I should have told him who I was. My brother, a lawyer in New York, had done some legal work for Trump. “You should have told me,” Trump said. “I would have let you in.” Frank Cerabino has been a local news columnist for the Palm Beach Post for the past 24 years. He writes five columns a week. Also On POLITICO Trump bluffs past another crisis By Ben Schreckinger Donald Trump’s 11 worst foreign policy gaffes By Nick Gass The Palm Beach Town Council shot down all of Trump’s proposed changes to the property, even when he reduced his mini-mansion plans from 10 to seven. Instead, they encouraged him to find a buyer if he couldn’t afford to keep the estate intact. After all, New York packaging magnate Nelson Peltz had spent $21 million to buy the Palm Beach oceanfront estate, Montsorrel, two years after Trump bought Mar-a-Lago. Go find another Norman Peltz to take Mar-a-Lago off your hands, Trump was advised.Instead, when the town’s government refused to bend to his demands, Trump sued. The lawsuit against the Town of Palm Beach, which would prove to be not his last, would eventually cause his neighbors to lawyer up against him.“There are rules around here,” Ron Kolins, a lawyer representing one of Trump’s neighbors, told the Palm Beach Post at the time, “and those rules apply to everyone, whether or not you have a famous name.”After his Mansions of Mar-a-Lago plan was rejected, Trump found another way to salvage his stake in Mar-a-Lago. He offered to drop his lawsuit if council members allowed him to convert his estate into a new private club on the island. The Mar-a-Lago Club.This was a tempting offer. So much of Palm Beach social life was dictated by club memberships. The gentiles and Jews each had their clubs. And there hadn’t been a new club on the island in a quarter century. The town would get to have Mar-a-Lago remain in appearance as it was in the Merriweather Post days. And Trump would unburden himself of its expenses by selling off memberships while retaining his ownership of the property.Membership would be capped at 500, not including spouses and children. The initiation fee would be $50,000 with $3,000 annual dues. The members would get to dine there, swim in the pool and attend private parties and special events with world-class singers, lecturers and entertainers. So it didn’t help that Trump was an irrepressible salesman, always looking to push limits, or to promote his club with the kind of zeal that made it hard to separate fact from fiction.Like the time he claimed that Princess Diana and her estranged husband Prince Charles had joined the Mar-a-Lago Club, and that he personally signed them both up. “It’s complete nonsense,” the Buckingham Palace information officer responded. * * *By the time Trump was hawking club memberships, I had already gotten a little first-hand experience with Trump’s insatiable appetite for shameless self-promotion.The first January after the divorce to his first wife, Ivana, was final, Trump’s publicist called all the local TV news and newspapers outlets in Palm Beach County to say that Trump was about to hold the party of all parties for that winter’s Palm Beach social season.The publicist explained that one reporter from each news outlet would be allowed to attend this party-of-the-year to mingle with a guest list of invited celebrities such as Tom Selleck, Sylvester Stallone and football star Herschel Walker.I was on the guest list to cover the event for my newspaper. But it turned out that my role in the party was far more complex than I had imagined. Trump, who was still trying to find a way to salvage his Mar-a-Lago deal, didn’t want to give his Palm Beach neighbors the idea that he was drowning in debt.So after the bank sold off the units of the Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches, Trump took out a full-page ad in The Palm Beach Daily News, the island newspaper known to locals as “The Shiny Sheet” for its high quality paper that eliminates ink rub-off stains. The ad didn’t mention that he had completely lost his financial stake in the condos, or how the project achieved full occupancy.“This is an advertisement to explain the great success of a development, Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches, which many people, until recently, had not been fully aware,” the ad said. “When I look at Trump Plaza from Mar-a-Lago, I am proud that even in the horrendous real estate market of the early 1990s, I was able to rescue this previously troubled and unsold development, add management, construction expertise and the name Trump … and make it into one of Florida’s greatest success stories.” * * *That “success” didn’t change the fact that Trump still couldn’t afford Mar-a-Lago as a single family home, and nobody was coming along to relieve him from the deal on “paradise” he had made.His proposed solution was to chop his National Historic Landmark into something he called Mansions of Mar-a-Lago, a development that would put a public road through the middle of the estate, which would lead to the 10 mini-mansions he would build on the property, including one on the front lawn. There is no issue too petty in Palm Beach, and Trump’s combative early years set the stage for retaliation. For example, when Trump changed the coat of arms on Mar-a-Lago’s tower to add the name “Trump” he was brought before the members of the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. They advised him that he needed permission to do this, and they thought the use of his name was too tacky.“I think it’s blatant advertising,” landmarks commissioner Wendy Victor said at the time.Jane Day, the town’s landmark consultant, said, “Using the coat of arms to sell real estate in New York is a real problem.”Trump’s response: “What am I gonna say, Jones?”Trump never quite shared the Palm Beach aesthetic that understated elegance was much preferred over ostentatious self-promotion. He was a look-at-me brawler of a guy in a town that had once banned shirtless jogging by men as too tacky, and had scented its sewer water with lilac and honeysuckle fragrances so that even the local residents’ effluent would be understated and pleasant. But many Palm Beachers were still reluctant to trust Trump.“A lot of people like to think Palm Beach is a little more genteel and old money,” socialite Tamara Newell said at the time. “This is a new-money idea at an old-money location.”Though the town eventually approved the club, it only gave Palm Beachers more reasons to peck at him with their disapproval.The town council met in special session to deny Trump the approval to have wedding night fireworks at Mar-a-Lago, where he held the reception for his 1995 wedding to his current wife, Melania.“We have not approved any fireworks on land in at least 20 years,” Councilman Norman Goldblum said.And when an Elton John AIDS benefit at Mar-a-Lago drew 900 people a year later, the town fined Trump $5,000 for allowing more than the agreed maximum of 700 at events there. “That’s OK,” I told him. “I got a much better column the way things worked out.”The truth is, the arrival of Trump’s oversized ego in Palm Beach was like an insurance plan for a steady stream of readable copy.And over the years, I’ve long known what national political reporters are just finding out: That you can’t write too much about Trump. He’s an inexhaustible source of good stories equally read by people who both admire him and despise him. * * *While Trump was playing defense against the town’s constant attempt to rein him in, he went on the attack against the county and its airport. Airlines routinely used a flight path in and out of Palm Beach International Airport in nearby West Palm Beach that brought the planes directly over Mar-a-Lago.This didn’t sit well with Trump, who argued that the noise and fumes were ruining his investment, and that the decent thing for the county to do was to move the airport farther west. Trump had been arguing this for years, to no avail, while calling the airport director Bruce Pelly, among other things, a “moron” and “the worst airport director in the country.” “I paid the highest price for a piece of land that’s costing $2 or $2 ½ million a year to maintain,” he testified. “Maybe the tax assessment will force us to develop the land, which I’m sure won’t make the town very happy.”This was the kind of brash talk the old-money aristocrats feared from Trump, who wasn’t the sort of genteel patrician favored by the Palm Beach Social Index-Directory, a yearly published, privately circulated little black book designed to separate the island’s socially acceptable wealthy from the uncouth rich. He was regarded by some as a kind of barbarian at the gated community, a hustler too eager to impress. And his threat of chopping up Mar-a-Lago was an omen of some rough relations on the horizon.It’s the kind of tactic that the GOP establishment is getting a taste of now, as Trump breaks with party orthodoxy on some issues while bad-mouthing its A-list politicians and pundits. Republican elites would do well to learn that Trump pursues what he wants without much regard for rules. And that rather than fold on his gambles, Trump tends to double down.At the time his Mar-a-Lago investment was in doubt, Trump had launched another local real estate venture across the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach — an ailing 33-story, twin-tower complex that a Palm Beach developer had lost in foreclosure. Trump bought the property in 1986 for $40 million cash, $3.2 million less than the Bank of New York paid to reclaim the property at a public foreclosure auction. Like Mar-a-Lago, it was panning out to be a deal he couldn’t afford.Trump renamed the West Palm Beach condo project after himself. And he spent millions to spruce up the public areas of the Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches and advertise the sale of its luxury condos in Northeastern newspapers.“This is not a very large deal for me, but it’s a quality deal,” Trump said at the time. “We expect a lot of people in Palm Beach to be buying apartments for family, et cetera.” The tough guy’s not above working the refs. * * *Over the years, Palm Beach has gradually come to accept Trump’s outsized personality along with his private club as more of an asset than a potential source of trouble. The club has hosted many glittering social events, charity balls and political fundraisers. And as a concert hall, it has housed Palm Beach Opera shows and performances from some top-notch entertainers such as Celine Dion and Tony Bennett.As town officials moved on, their successors gradually loosened up their tight reins on the club, easing the restriction on the numbers of outdoor beach barbecues it would allow, permitting the construction of an outdoor pavilion, and allowing the club to build a 14,000-square-foot kitchen on the grounds so waiters wouldn’t have to use golf carts to haul food from inside the mansion.Trump also figured out a good solution to paying lower taxes on Mar-a-Lago. By giving up development rights on the land to the National Trust for Historic Preservation it eliminated the county property appraiser’s ability to tax the property on the “highest and best use” standard that contemplated that the property could still be chopped up into lots and sold off.Trump has become a Palm Beach fixture now, but it would be wrong to say he has mellowed. Rihanna had been booked to sing at Mar-a-Lago for a Saturday evening event, but bailed at the last minute, claiming a case of bronchitis.It turned out that Rihanna wasn’t in bed, nursing a sore throat that weekend. She was in Southern California, pushing her new fragrance, Reb’l Fleur, at Macy’s and singing at the halftime show at NBA All-Star Game.“I would think if he could control the price of Arab oil with the sound of his voice, he certainly could have restored respect to Mar-a-Lago by getting the foreign-born Rihanna on the phone Saturday morning and saying, ‘That bronchitis you don’t really have better get cured, and it better get cured fast.’”Harmless jab, right?Trump called me up to complain.“When are you going to write something nice about me?” “Perhaps, Mr. Cerabino has problems with the fact that his brother, Tom, is a highly paid lawyer whose firm works for the Trump Organization or that he forgot to thank me for the free meals he received at Mar-a-Lago.”When my brother and his wife were guests at Mar-a-Lago, my wife and I ate dinner there with them, and Trump arrived at the table for dessert, joined us, then insisted on picking up the check.I’ve learned that Trump admires or despises journalists based on how useful they are to him, and that his sense of humor doesn’t include anything directed at him.Four years ago, when Trump was pretending to run for president, and making his now-familiar broad statements about how America would change for the better once he brings China and the Middle East to its knees, I wrote another column he didn’t like.He had just told a Republican group how oil prices would drop once a President Trump delivered the news to OPEC: “That price better get lower, and it better get lower fast.”I pointed out in my column that at the same time this theoretical future President Trump was browbeating the world into submission, the real Donald Trump was being pushed around by a featherweight pop singer from Barbados. It turned out to be a useful gripe for Trump, one that he could turn into a new business opportunity, because just south of the airport was 214 acres of vacant scrub land owned by Palm Beach County, land he wanted. So Trump sued the county for $75 million over the airport noise, then negotiated to drop that lawsuit in exchange for the county giving him a 75-year lease on the nearby property for $438,000 a year.That land became the Trump International Golf Club, a $40 million, 18-hole, Jim Fazio-designed course that imported nearly 2 million cubic yards of dirt to transform the flat scrub land into hilly terrain with waterfalls, rock formations, and a clubhouse four stories above sea level.Trump, who was planning to open the course with initiation fees starting at $100,000, wanted the county to do one more thing for him: Move the jail.That’s’ because no matter how much landscaping he brought to the course, there was no way of disguising the ugly 12-story Palm Beach County Jail that towered over the north side of the course and was visible from some of the holes. So as he had done with the airport, Trump asked county officials to move the jail. They refused. The sheriff found the idea amusing.I suggested that the least the county could do was to put a sign on top of the jail to make it appear to Trump’s golfers that it was a luxury hotel. I held a rename-the-jail contest in my column. The entries submitted included Bar-a-Lago, and the Breakers In, a takeoff on the famous Palm Beach hotel.Trump wasn’t laughing along. I was banned from covering the opening of the course, and Trump wrote a letter to the editor of the Palm Beach Post to complain. “Doesn’t Post columnist Frank Cerabino have anything better to write about than my golf course?” his letter said.
Study finds resistance genes are abundant in Chinese estuariesA team of researchers has detected a high abundance and diversity of antibiotic resistance genes in Chinese coastal estuaries, according to a study yesterday in Nature Microbiology.For the study, researchers tested sediment from 18 estuaries over 4,000 km of coastal China and examined their relationship with bacterial communities, antibiotic residues, and socioeconomic factors. They found a total of 259 resistance genes in the estuary samples, with an average of 118 in each estuary at levels around 1 million resistance genes per gram of sediment. The detected genes conferred resistance to almost all major classes of antibiotics used in humans and animals, the authors said, and represented all major resistance mechanisms, including antibiotic deactivation, efflux pumps, and cellular protection.The most common resistance genes found at each estuary were multidrug and beta-lactam resistance genes, followed by aminoglycoside and tetracycline resistance genes. Vancomycin resistance genes were found at all estuaries. When the researchers analyzed antibiotic residues in estuary samples, they found five major antibiotic classes: diaminopyrimidines, tetracyclines, sulfonamides, fluoroquinolones, and macrolides. The concentrations of tetracyclines and macrolides were positively correlated with the total abundance of resistance genes.Analysis of the relationship between socioeconomic factors and resistance-gene abundance showed that total population, gross domestic product, sewage, and aquaculture production were correlated with the abundance of aminoglycoside, multidrug, and sulfonamide resistance genes.The authors conclude that anthropogenic activity “appears to be the major driver of abundance and diversity” of resistance genes found in estuaries, and that wastewater streams from municipal sewage treatment and aquaculture are a likely contributor. Jan 30 Nat Microbiol abstract Antibiotic use in travelers linked to colonization with MDR bacteriaA new study from researchers in Sweden and Finland has found that antibiotics taken during travel to subtropical regions can predispose travelers to colonization by drug-resistant bacteria with a high rate of co-resistance to other antibiotics.In the study, which appeared yesterday in Travelers Medicine and Infectious Disease, the researchers analyzed the isolates of 90 people who had contracted extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-PE) while traveling abroad. The 90 participants were part of an earlier investigation, in which the researchers found that taking antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea (TD) increased the risk of colonization by ESBL-PE, particularly when traveling to regions with poor hygiene and weak antibiotic policy (such as South and Southeast Asia). One of the main takeaways of that study was that travelers should be advised against taking antibiotics for mild or moderate TD.For this study, the researchers were trying to determine what percentage of those isolates were also co-resistant to non-beta-lactam antibiotics, as co-resistance can complicate treatment of ESBL-PE infections. They considered four major risk factors of colonization, including destination, age, TD, and antibiotic use.Of the ESBL-PE isolates, 53%, 52%, 73%, and 2% were co-resistant to ciprofloxacin, tobramycin, co-trimoxazole, and nitrofurantoin, respectively. The rates were similar among those with TD and without TD. But when they compared the isolates of the travelers who had taken fluoroquinolones (FQs) to those who had taken no antibiotics, they found co-resistance rates for ciprofloxacin were 95% versus 37%, for tobramycin were 85% versus 43%, for co-trimoxazole were 85% versus 68%, and for nitrofurantoin were 5% versus 2%.”Thus, use of FQs predisposes not only to contracting ESBL-PE strains but, indeed, also to selecting ESBL-PE strains co-resistant to certain clinically important non-beta-lactam antibiotics,” the authors write.”The data reveal that the perils of antibiotic use during travel are even greater than hitherto recognized.”Jan 30 Travel Med Infect Dis study
By ALLEN MCQUISTONThe Jemez AgencyLos AlamosOne of the most exciting times in life is purchasing a new home, whether it’s your first starter home or your final retirement home. It’s an investment of money, but more importantly, it’s a commitment to family, life and love.Purchasing the appropriate homeowners policy is the first step to protecting your investment, but continuing to update the policy as you make any substantial life changes is what will give you the peace of mind that your investment is fully protected.Most of us know that at its core, a homeowners policy covers damage to your property as well as offering liability protection for you, subject to certain exclusions and conditions. As time moves on, you will acquire new possessions and make life changes that may outdate your current homeowners insurance contract.Here are a few life changes that may require modification to your insurance coverage:Marriage or life partnership. You may need to add your new wedding ring, your new spouse/family member, or their belongings to the policy.Getting a pet. Some breeds of dogs or exotic pets may cause concern for your insurance carrier. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance agent before bringing a four-legged loved one into the family dynamic.Buying a new toy. Things such as such as a boat, golf cart, or trampoline may require an update to your policy. Some insurance carriers may have stipulations when adding these.Home renovations or remodeling. Coverage may need to be increased for new a home addition, deck, or patio.Home rentals. Options like VRBO, HomeAway, and Airbnb may seem attractive from an income standpoint. However, they may negate coverage under your existing policy. The same is true if you decide to rent your home rather than sell it. The type of policy to ensure that type of situation is different than a traditional homeowners policy. In either of these instances, please consult with your insurance agent.Home Vacancy. If your home is vacant for an extended period of time, your coverage may be in jeopardy. Please consult your policy and/or insurance agent for guidance.The bottom line is that it’s important to review how your life has changed over the years and if your homeowners insurance has kept pace.