San Francisco

Golden Gate Park Ferris Wheel's Future Uncertain

NBC Universal, Inc.

The huge, bright Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park comes up for a vote this week. Supporters say, all the lockdowns haven’t given it a chance to show what it can do, and opponents say they’ve seen enough.

The 150-foot-tall Sky Star observation wheel came to town early last year to celebrate the park’s 150th anniversary, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, has only been open for a total of five weeks, and then at only 25% capacity.

“I think it should stay personally, it seems to be a very eye-catching location,” said Melissa Ybarra of Palo Alto.

The city Recreation and Parks Department likes it. The ocean to downtown view from up top has the potential to bring many more people and more money into the Park. Some community groups say they like it too.

Wednesday we find out how much the planning department‘s Historic Preservation Commission likes it, as it considers a four year extension.

“Enjoy it for the days that we have with it but It never gets to stay forever here- it’s just not fitting with the park,” said Michael of San Francisco. 

Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the nearby Haight Ashbury district, said a four year extension is “excessive.” 

The stunning lights should go dark, says The Sierra Club, because quote, “light pollution can have a negative impact on birds — both resident and migrating — as well as bats, insects, amphibians, and other animals.”

The Golden Gate Audubon Society says because of the lights, “[migratory] birds can become disoriented leading to exhaustion or unnecessary use of energy when it is critical for migration or for breeding productivity.”

As both sides actively debate, the SkyStar sits idle. It hasn’t had a rider since November, and won’t have another one until San Francisco moves out of the purple tier. 

What happens after that, we find out Wednesday.

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