Another round of trouble as Trump sues for $100m

After a bruising campaign to build a golf course in Scotland, the tycoon sets his sights on a town in California

Donald Trump, billionaire property magnate and orange-haired icon of capitalist success, has gone to war against a little Californian town that he says is undermining the "Trump image".

He has launched a lawsuit demanding Rancho Palos Verdes, on a beautiful Pacific coast peninsula, compensate him to the tune of $100m (£67m), five times the town's annual budget, in a dispute over a hyper-luxurious golf course he developed there in 2002.

The local authority is defrauding him and breaching his civil rights, his lawsuit thunders.

What has the town done to earn the tycoon's wrath? According to local residents and court documents, officials have refused to rename a local highway Trump National Drive, and forced him to cut down a row of 12ft trees he had planted to block views of low-cost housing from the course. Now they are holding up plans for 20 luxury homes in the golf club grounds, demanding tough environmental and safety studies because of landslides in the area.

A frustrated Mr Trump told the Los Angeles Times this weekend that he had been "looking forward" to suing Palos Verdes for a long time. "The town does everything possible to stymie everything I do," he said.

His lawsuit alleges that the town is forcing him to spend "millions of dollars on unnecessary, repetitive, unreasonable and unlawful geologic surveys" while knowing that the cliff-top property is safe – something Mr Trump thinks they are doing so that they can pocket more fees from him.

Instead of constantly changing the rules, as he alleges, they should be grateful that he came to the area in the first place. "I took a piece of land lying fallow, tied up in courts for years and created the No 1 course in California," he said.

Mr Trump's company, VH Property, bought the 300-acre parcel of land, half an hour south of Los Angeles, in 2002 – three years after a landslide had destroyed a previous golf course on the site and sent the 18th hole into the sea. His 45,000 sq ft clubhouse has attracted professional golfers with "stately locker rooms", businessmen with "secluded conference rooms" and celebrities with facilities including a "magnificent grand ballroom". Homes within the grounds sell for $12m apiece and the complex boasts stunning views.

But Mr Trump's relations with the locals have been less than serene almost since his arrival, when he originally charmed them at town hall meetings and business breakfasts. Wags dubbed his plan to rename Ocean Trails Drive as "Narcissism Lane". The legal action launched in a Los Angeles court marks a new low.

Attorneys for the town say they were surprised by the suit and would respond "vigorously". Tom Long, a local councillor, said the suit was a "betrayal" of agreements. "This is a sad day for the city but an even sadder one for Donald Trump who has sullied what good remains in his name and endangered his legacy."

Residents told local reporters that they were angry Mr Trump was bullying them and the local authority. "He just feels rules aren't made for him," Jo Ann Michetti, a retired liability investigator, told the Los Angeles Times. "He expects them to say he can do it because he's Donald Trump."

Mr Trump's aggressive business practices and concerns that he would ride roughshod over environmental laws were among the fears raised in the UK, where he waged an 18-month charm offensive aimed at winning permission to build a similar luxury golf course in Aberdeenshire. The scheme won approval last month, but only after the intervention of the Nationalist government in Scotland, which overturned the decision of the local council to side with environmental opponents of Mr Trump. The tycoon attended meetings on the scheme in person.

Rancho Palos Verdes is the latest in a list of legal skirmishes that have broken out this year across Mr Trump's sprawling empire. With the credit crisis strangling financing for many building projects – and threatening a crash in property prices – Mr Trump is under pressure to squeeze profits out of all his existing ventures.

In Chicago, where Mr Trump has half-built a hotel and condominium complex taller than New York's Empire State Building, he is suing Deutsche Bank, which provided loans for the project and says he missed a deadline this month to pay off $334m. Mr Trump claims the credit crisis counts as force majeure, equivalent to acts of God, and he should get an extension on the loan.

Meanwhile elaborate plans are being mothballed, with Trump skyscrapers from Dubai to Philadelphia on hold. Scottish politicians have raised doubts about whether the Aberdeenshire development will go ahead. Mr Trump denies this. Worst of all, Trump Entertainment Resorts, his publicly-quoted casinos business which runs three complexes in Atlantic City, has until the end of the month to deliver a $53.1m interest payment, or renegotiate debts, or be put into bankruptcy.

Panto villain? A passing resemblance

*The Aberdeen Arts centre is putting on a pantomime this Christmas. Robin Hood And Babes In The Woods tells the story of the Sheriff of Nottingham who plans to cut down Sherwood Forest and build an International Golf Course & Holiday Resort. But the forest belongs to the Sherwood Twins who have no intention of letting the Sheriff get his way. Any reference to Donald Trump and his controversial plans for a luxury golf resort not far from Aberdeen must, of course, be purely coincidental.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam