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Indybay Feature
Stealing The Park! SF Golden Gate Park Stables, Nepotism, Privatization & Parks Alliance
by Labor Video Project
Tuesday Mar 30th, 2021 10:12 AM
Author Steve Hill discusses the systemic sell off of Golden Gate Park by the "non-profit" Parks Alliance with the corrupt SF City and County politicians.
sm_golden_gate_park_stables.jpg
STEALING THE PARK! SF Golden Gate Park Stables, Nepotism, Privatization & The Parks Alliance

San Francisco Golden Gate Park is being privatized piece by piece according to author and journalist Steve Hill.
Hill talks about the secret deal to allow a Ferris wheel in the center of the Park and the fight against it being there for five years. He also discusses the role of the Parks Alliance which set up a slush fund to pay off former DPW Director Nuru who was on the take from "non-profits” and contractors.

He also discusses the scam to allow a private contractor to build stables in the park and the conditions of the workers and horses as well as the enviromental issues.

He reports that there is no oversight and that the workers are living in the park in trailers. This interview took place on 3/27/21

Additional media:

More parks privatization: The horses of Golden Gate Park
https://48hills.org/2021/03/more-parks-privatization-the-horses-of-golden-gate-park/?fbclid=IwAR0B9SDiw3Z3G3eVCxcZKEzGK3xPkYC6dhR7c0SNQs-X62dVR-P4FnWvx2I

WW 2-25-21 The Ferris wheel, Privatization Of Golden Gate Park & SF Community College
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww-2-25-21-the-ferris-wheel-privatization-of-golden-gate-park-sf-community-college

Revenue goes not to the city, but to a private entity that's part of an FBI corruption probe.
https://48hills.org/2021/02/supes-call-for-investigation-of-ferris-wheel-money/
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/S-F-supervisors-call-for-Golden-Gate-ferris-15974301.php

SF Golden Gate Park Privatizers Face Postponement of Vote
Opposition forces postponement of vote on SkyStar Wheel
https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/opposition-forces-postponement-of-vote-on-skystar-wheel/

SF Recreation & Parks Department Ferris Wheel Staff Report
https://sfrecpark.org/DocumentCenter/View/16206/Item-10-Music-Concourse-Observation-Wheel-Extension-Staff-Report-021821
https://sfurbannature.org

Additional links:
https://www.steven-hill.com

WorkWeek
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio

Labor Video Project
http://www.labormedia.net

S.F. supes committee votes to take down Golden Gate Park Ferris wheel in a year

“A corrupt government penalizes everyone if we allow a pay-to-play culture to fester,” said Chan, a former employee of the Recreation and Parks Department. Rules Committee chair Aaron Peskin described the Parks Alliance as “The same non profit where our now disgraced public works head was able to stash money.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/.../S-F-supes-committee-votes...

Photo of Sam Whiting
Sam Whiting
March 15, 2021
Updated: March 15, 2021 5:20 p.m.
Bikers pass a long line of people for the SkyStar Observation Wheel Golden Gate Park, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in San Francisco, Calif. Amid an alarming surge of new coronavirus cases, the state on Saturday placed San Francisco to the most restrictive purple tier in its pandemic blueprint for the economy, forcing most indoor activities to close by noon Sunday and placing the counties' residents under curfew starting Monday night. The curfew will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and requires people to stay at home during those hours except for essential activities, including permitted jobs, grocery shopping, doctor visits and walking the dog or exercising. Most other Bay Area counties are already subject to the curfew.
Bikers pass a long line of people for the SkyStar Observation Wheel Golden Gate Park, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in San Francisco, Calif. Amid an alarming surge of new coronavirus cases, the state on Saturday placed San Francisco to the most restrictive purple tier in its pandemic blueprint for the economy, forcing most indoor activities to close by noon Sunday and placing the counties’ residents under curfew starting Monday night. The curfew will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and requires people to stay at home during those hours except for essential activities, including permitted jobs, grocery shopping, doctor visits and walking the dog or exercising. Most other Bay Area counties are already subject to the curfew.
Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle
Whether the much-loved and much-hated SkyStar Observation Wheel in Golden Gate Park will keep turning for one year or for four years will be determined by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting.
By a 3-0 vote the Board’s Rules Committee on Monday referred the big wheel’s fate to the full 11-member board, thereby undercutting earlier recommendations of the Recreation and Park Commission that the 150-foot lighted amusement in the Music Concourse be extended for four years in the interest of economic recovery from the pandemic.
“If economic recovery in my district is dependent upon a wheel then I am not doing my job,” said Sup. Connie Chan who represents the park and introduced the resolution to extend the wheel by just one year to compensate for the year of operation lost to the pandemic.
The Rules Committee decision came at the end of the usual two or three hours of public testimony, mostly pitting park and wildlife advocates against advocates for kid-friendly amusements and business interests who see the wheel as an engine of economic growth and a boost for tourism.
Underlying the issue is a simmering judgment of the San Francisco Parks Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy agency in favor of the full four-year extension. The Parks Alliance, which gets a small portion of each $18 ticket sold for the SkyStar, is one of several businesses and organizations subpoenaed by the City Attorney's Office last year in an attempt to trace how nonprofit groups may have acted as intermediaries for money as it flowed from contractors angling for city business to city departments, which may have used the money to pay for employee parties. The Parks Alliance has denied any wrongdoing.
“A corrupt government penalizes everyone if we allow a pay-to-play culture to fester,” said Chan, a former employee of the Recreation and Parks Department. Rules Committee chair Aaron Peskin described the Parks Alliance as “The same non profit where our now disgraced public works head was able to stash money.”
The observation wheel is owned and operated by SkyView Partners in St. Louis and was trucked to San Francisco in early 2020 to serve as a major draw for the park’s 150th anniversary celebration, which was scheduled to open April 4, 2020 and last for one year. But the pandemic stay-at-home order postponed the park celebration indefinitely, and as a result, the SkyStar only ran for 39 days in 2020. It finally opened again when the city was moved from the purple tier to the red tier earlier this month.
The extension approved by both the Rec and Park and Historic Preservation commissions, extends it until Mar. 1, 2025. The resolution by the Board of Supervisors is to extend the wheel’s operation permit until February 7, 2022, with full removal required by March 15, 2022.
“A deal is a deal and COVID has changed many landscapes, but the wheel went up during COVID knowing that COVID was here ” Peskin said in arguing for a 1-year extension. “This is consistent with the original deal relative to recouping money and relative to the 150th anniversary celebration of Golden Gate Park, a party that has not happened.”
Since the issue surfaced, there have been four public hearings, each attended by a minimum of two hours of public testimony. Tuesday’s Rules Committee hearing was announced as the last time the public would be heard on the issue and callers lined up to have the last word. At any given time there were 20 or 30 callers in the queue waiting to be heard.
Some callers suggested that the lines were being overloaded in a one-sided campaign engineered by the financial interests of the SkyStar, namely SkyView Partners, the Recreation and Park Department, and the San Francisco Parks Alliance.
“Why can’t rec and park accept a one-year compromise that accommodates nature?” said one exasperated caller. “What’s next? bumper cars?”
Said another, “Golden Gate Park is a crown jewel. Why on earth do we need a Ferris wheel to attract visitors?”
But that is the whole point, according to its promoters. The pandemic has left city merchants desperate for income, and anything helps.
“We need the entertainment options. We need the jobs. We need the income,” said one caller. “Tourism and event production businesses have been hit the hardest and we need this wheel in Golden Gate Park.”
Some callers expressed irritation that the Board of Supervisors was weighing in on an issue that had already been decided by two committees. Some also expressed concern that the Board of Supervisors will next weigh in on other temporary use permits for the park, including Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and Outside Lands, making a two-thirds majority vote of the Board of Supervisors necessary for permitting any event.
“What good is it to have any commissions if the board can just override it if it doesn’t like the decision,” said one caller.
But Peskin was waiting for this one. He cited the city charter bolstered by voter referendum that made it clear that the Board of Supervisors has the final word on any major contract involving Golden Gate Park.
The fate of the SkyStar will be determined at Tuesday’s board meeting, starting at 2 p.m.
Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email swhiting [at] sfchronicle.com

SF Golden Gate Park Ferris wheel wins four-year extension despite environmental, corruption and privatization protests-SF London Breed’s Rubber Stamp Board
https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/golden-gate-park-ferris-wheel-wins-four-year-extension/

JOSHUA SABATINI
Mar. 3, 2021 3:00 p.m

Despite concerns raised by environmental group and many residents, San Francisco’s 150-foot tall, illuminated Ferris wheel will keep on turning in Golden Gate Park for another four years after the Historic Preservation Commission approved the proposal Wednesday.

The SkyStar Wheel was installed in the park’s Music Concourse as part of the planned 150th Anniversary celebration for Golden Gate Park in 2020. But The City’s COVID-19 shutdown meant the wheel could only operate for 39 days.

The Recreation and Park Department proposed keeping the wheel in the park for another four years, citing the need to fulfill the initial one year agreement with the operator, which expires later this month, and to help with The City’s economic recovery.

Hundreds of residents have objected to the wheel’s presence in the park due to the light pollution and noise from a generator it produces, and argued the park is an inappropriate setting for the attraction. Supervisor Connie Chan had called on the commission to only approve an extension of 326 days, to allow the wheel to operate for one year including the 39 days in 2020.

But those concerns did now sway the Historic Preservation Commission, which voted 7-0 to approve the four-year extension.

Backers of the wheel praised it for the benefits they say it can bring to The City.

Recreation and Park Commissioner Larry Mazzola, Jr. said approval “is the right thing to do for San Francisco.”

“Activating public spaces will also play a key role in our economic recovery,” Mazzaola said. “It will bring visitors to the museums, the gardens and businesses in the surrounding neighborhoods. It is disheartening to me that an issue of a Ferris wheel is such a controversial and negative thing at a time when we could all use an escape from reality.”

The Recreation and Park Commission approved the four-year permit last month, but needed the Historic Preservation Commission’s approval before the agreement could go into effect.

Katherine Howard of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter wanted the wheel “removed immediately.”

“If there is an extension, one more year is the longest this environmental damaging structure should be allowed to remain in Golden Gate Park,” Howard said. “Meanwhile, there are birds and other wildlife to take care of. Therefore we support turning the lights off at sunset for the duration of the wheel’s presence at Golden Gate Park, which is San Francisco’s premier historic landscape park.”

A day before Wednesday’s vote, the Recreation and Parks Department and SkyStar Wheel, LLC, a Missouri-based company, announced the wheel would reopen Thursday, as is allowed now that San Francisco moved into the state’s second most restrictive COVID red tier this week. They apparently assumed approval by the commission, because they also announced that they would “offer to all San Francisco public school graduating seniors to take a free ride on the Wheel this summer beginning June 2 through Sept. 6.”

“The pandemic has been especially hard on kids who are missing out on celebrating their milestones and achievements the way they’ve envisioned,” Rec and Park head Phil Ginsburg said in the announcement. “The SkyStar Wheel allows them to rise above the fray and find inspiration in the exhilarating view.”

The initial one-year permit awarded the nonprofit Parks Alliance $1 from every $18 adult ticket sold for a Ferris wheel ride to help pay for the $1.9 million anniversary celebration, which was largely paid for by private donations, a Rec and Park spokesperson previously said.

Chan and Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who also supported only an one-year extension, called last week for an investigation into the nonprofit’s agreement.

Mayor London Breed seemingly criticized opponents of the wheel during a Tuesday press conference announcing the reopening of more businesses.

“You better hurry up and go ride the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park before the fun police shut it down,” Breed said at the time.


jsabatini [at] sfexaminer.com
§Corrupt Parks Alliance Gets Ferris Wheel In Golden Gate Park
by Labor Video Project
Tuesday Mar 30th, 2021 10:12 AM
sm_gg_park_ferris_wheel.jpg
The corrupt Parks Alliance has been allowed by the Mayor London Breed to privatize Golden Gate Park. City politicians like Hillary Ronen supported the corrupt deal when it came to the SF Board Of Supervisors
§SF Mayor Breed & Former DPW Director Nuru
by Labor Video Project
Tuesday Mar 30th, 2021 10:12 AM
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SF Mayor London Breed colluded with former DPW Nuru as he sold off the city for personal favors. He also paid for the repair of Mayor Beed's car but the SF Board of Supervisors refused to demand prosecution by the District Attorney Chesin Boudin
§Privatizing The Park
by Labor Video Project
Tuesday Mar 30th, 2021 10:12 AM
sm_gg_park_privatization_closed.jpg
Spaces at the Park including the Arboretum are being fenced off for private parties of the wealthy. This is supported by City politicians who have accepted privatization of public resources.
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