Five protesters were arrested on charges of trespassing Thursday afternoon as community activists stepped up their protests against the developers of a luxury apartment complex by disrupting work at the downtown construction site.
More than 100 protesters and supporters of the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now gathered in front of the Medici apartments at Bixel and 7th streets at noon.
Association members insist that the developers, G.H. Palmer and Associates, should comply with a 1991 city regulation requiring residential developers to devote 15% of new units to low-income housing. Two years ago, city planning officials gave permission to the developer to instead construct 60 moderately priced apartments within about three miles of the project.
On Thursday, protesters crossed Bixel Street to a site where the second phase of the Medici project is under construction. One association member, John Madrid, handcuffed himself to an earthmover.
"We want this construction site to stop until they comply with the 15% city ordinance," Madrid said.
In refusing to move, Madrid blocked one worker from continuing his job, said Sam Maus, Palmer construction project manager.
"I don't mind what [protesters] do," Maus said. "But that guy's making a living. He can't do it."
Madrid said he empathized with the workers' plights but had a bigger picture in mind.
The protest was unnecessary, said Benjamin Reznik, an attorney for the builder. "The way the condition is written, the city can hold up occupancy of the Medici if we don't provide the affordable housing units," he said.