The Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on whether to overturn a decision to operate the 150-foot-tall, illuminated Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park for another four years.
The month-long debate has divided the residents. Opponents argue that it has an impact on wildlife and has no place in the park, while proponents argue that it’s a fun ride that helps attract visitors and boost the local economy.
The Recreation and Park Commission and Historic Preservation Commission recently approved the wheel installation for an additional four years after it was originally approved for a one-year term that ended later that month. It was believed that these permits were all that was required to keep the wheel spinning in the park for another four years.
However, superiors Aaron Peskin and Connie Chan, who side with the cycling opponents, have argued that a city charter provision requires the bike to seek board approval. You are moving to limit the renewal to one year. The removal must be done by March 15, 2022.
The Board’s regulatory committee voted Monday to send the proposal to the full board for a vote on Tuesday after a two-hour hearing that re-weighed those on both sides of the issue. The Bureau was originally expected to vote on the proposal last week, but at that point it was referred to committee for further debate.
“It’s in line with the original deal,” said Peskin. “Fair is fair, let’s extend it for another year.”
The Charter provision in question states: “No building or structure, with the exception of kindergartens, equipment stores and comfort stations, may be erected, extended or extended in Golden Gate Park or Union Square Park, unless such a measure has been approved by two votes approved – third of the supervisory board.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who serves on the committee with Peskin and Chan, voted to forward the proposal to the full board but said he had not yet decided how it would vote and hoped a compromise could be reached in advance.
Mandelman referred the San Francisco Examiner to the prosecutor’s office to see if he believed the chamber had jurisdiction over the matter.
“That’s a question for the prosecutor,” said Mandelman. “As I said, I hope that cooler heads will prevail and that people can work something out.”
Some have objected to the two regulators’ use of the provision on this matter, arguing that it does not apply to the wheel as it is a “temporary structure”. They also said that doing so would set a problematic legal precedent for other events held in the park like Outside Lands by forcing them to get time-consuming approval from the board as well.
Peskin called this argument “absurd” but reiterated that he would be willing to put in place a regulation stating that something like Outside Lands would not be covered by the Charter provision since it is only three days a year and not like that Rad there for a total of five years.
He argued that the charter provision was very clear about the authority of the board, but previously told the auditor, “I got advice from the prosecutor and the prosecutor said we are not sure.”
The Department of Leisure and Parks initially approved a one-year permit with SkyStar Wheel, LLC, a Missouri-based company, to install the attraction in the park’s music hall as part of the Golden Gate Park 150th anniversary celebration. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bike was only in use for 39 days. Though it recently reopened with rides for seniors and children under 12 for $ 18 and $ 12, respectively.
Katherine Howard of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter has opposed the wheel but said she would support the one year extension as a compromise to “get this intrusive anti-nature structure out of Golden Gate Park forever.”
“Our precious parkland is often viewed as an empty open space just waiting for buildings or other attractions to be added,” said Howard. “Special interest groups only want one additional feature in our first-class landscape park. If we allow development to continue, we will lose our parkland to these structures. “
The department has announced that it will seek the four-year extension to meet the promises of the agreement for the first year and aid the city’s recovery.
Theresa Foglio-Ramirez, Laborers Local 261 sales representative who represents Rec and Parks staff, said shortening the four-year extension was “a constraint or restriction on our economic recovery.”
“The SkyStar Wheel is an attraction that draws people from all over the Bay Area and maybe even around the world to Golden Gate Park,” she said.
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