SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Officials with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced Wednesday that the SkyStar Wheel will be allowed to stay in Golden Gate Park until 2025.
The Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to issue a Certificate of Appropriateness, allowing Rec and Park to extend the current contract with the company that operates the SkyStar Wheel. The Recreation and Park Commission had previously approved the contract extension contingent on the HPC’s vote.
“Today’s decision was a win for fun, joy, and common sense,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “It fulfills a promise to visitors who haven’t had a chance to ride the wheel, allows San Franciscans to experience Golden Gate Park in a new way, and allows thousands of high-need families and graduating SFUSD seniors to ride for free. We are grateful to the Historic Preservation Commission and the Recreation and Park Commission for their careful consideration and judgment.”
The SkyStar Wheel is set to re-open Thursday at noon for rides now that San Francisco has returned to the less restrictive Red Tier as of Wednesday morning.
The SkyStar Observation Wheel was installed last year as part of Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Although the wheel was able to open in the fall at limited capacity, a surge in cases halted operations after only five weeks.
Last month, the Historic Preservation Commission postponed making a decision on the contract extension.
Groups like the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay chapter expressed opposition to extending the wheel’s permit, citing the detrimental effect the wheel’s bright LED lights have on the park’s wildlife at night.
Additionally, some area residents have complained about excessive noise coming from the wheel’s electrical generator.
The SkyStar Wheel is an additional attraction that will draw visitors to the park’s reopened museums and gardens, as well as to businesses in nearby neighborhoods.
“The wheel is a great addition to San Francisco’s many cultural attractions. It will bring visitors – local, regional and beyond – to spend time enjoying our beautiful city and supporting our small businesses,” said SF Travel CEO Joe D’Alessandro.
Officials also announced that San Francisco residents can receive everyday discounts for rides on the wheel. Starting on Monday, March 8, SF residents can purchase adult tickets for $15.30. Tickets for San Francisco children ages 3 to 12 and seniors over age 65 will be 15% off at $10.20. More information can be found at skystarwheel.com.