Irate neighbors and Sups put the brakes on corporate ferris wheel in GG Park

Rec and Park boss Phil Ginsburg, a master at shilling for the corporate dollar regardless of its environmental impact, is exasperated. His latest corporate boondoggle may be doomed to an early demise.

An irate citizenry is saying Enough!!!!!

Supervisors Connie Chan who represents the nearby Richmond District,  Dean Preston from the historic Haight, Aaron Peskin from the North Beach-Chinatown area and Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton who represents the Bayview-Hunters Point are saying, Hold on. Not so fast.

San Francisco has always been about the almighty dollar. Perhaps there is change in the air. And the 150 foot carnival barkers dream may not be part of the skyline.

San Francisco Chronicle 2.17.2021

The public debate over whether to extend the SkyStar Observation Wheel in Golden Gate Park for four more years went round and round like the big wheel itself, at the meeting of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday afternoon. At the end of three hours, the commissioners decided let it go round and round some more, as the issue was continued, by a unanimous 6-0 vote, to its next regular meeting on March 3.

Some members of the Historic Preservation Commission were willing to grant a six week extension to allow further study, and even that was shelved in favor of a continuation, at the request of Supervisors Connie Chan, Dean Preston and Aaron Peskin.

GG Park Concourse II 2.14.2021

Leading up to the meeting, the commission had received hundreds of emails, two thirds of them opposed to the extension and even that might have been understating it.

People against the wheel questioned the economic benefit to the city and questioned whether the park should be in the business of providing economic benefit to begin with, and specifically to an out-of-state amusement operator.

And it may all start back up again Thursday when the Recreation and Park Commission jumps aboard to address the same issue. Both government agencies must approve the request by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department to extend the contract for four more years so that the private operator of the attraction may recoup its investment and so that the wheel, which costs $18 a ride for adults and $12 for seniors and children, might serve as an engine of economic growth as the city comes out of the pandemic.

Rec and Park had pressed for a decision so that it might start making improvements to the SkyStar, which is powered by a generator that some citizens describe as too noisy, and under lights that some describe as too bright. The power has been kept on even though the attraction has only operated for 39 days, having been shut down twice by COVID-19 restrictions, which delayed its original opening from April 4, 2020 to Oct. 21.

“I don’t know where this went sideways,” said an exasperated Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the Rec and Park Department. “We’ve asked for four years. We don’t know when it will have a chance to run at full capacity. Six weeks won’t cut it.”