Press Release

Press Release: Supervisors Chan and Peskin Call for Investigation on SF Parks Alliance

Supervisors Connie Chan and Aaron Peskin Call for Investigation on SF Parks Alliance 

The investigation will focus on Rec. and Park’s Golden Gate Park 150th Anniversary Agreement 

District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan and District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin are requesting the City’s Controller and Budget Analyst’s Office to conduct an investigation on the San Francisco Parks Alliance, a local non-profit organization that engages in gifts and donation agreements with city agencies. The investigation will focus on the Golden Gate Park 150th Anniversary agreement between SF Parks Alliance and the City’s Recreation and Park Department. This agreement allows profit generated by vendors such as Skystar that operates the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park, to be directed to the SF Parks Alliance.  

“Instead of going directly to our City’s general fund, the revenue generated from Skystar is going to a non-profit that is still under FBI and public corruption investigations,” said Supervisor Connie Chan, whose district includes Golden Gate Park. “It raises the question of whether this is a good government practice and whether such practices contribute to the ‘pay-to-play’ culture among City agencies. That is why I am calling for an investigation focusing on this agreement and SF Parks Alliance practices.” 

Last week, the Recreation and Park Commission approved a contract allowing a four-year extension for Skystar to operate the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park, despite the fact that the Historic Preservation Commission, that has sole authority to determine the historic appropriateness of the wheel and approve its extended stay, voted to continue its decision on whether or not to allow an extension for the operation of the Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel is located within an area of Golden Gate Park designated as Landmark No. 249, is owned by the City and County of San Francisco and managed by the City’s Recreation and Park Department. 

“These so-called ‘friends’ groups don’t have an entirely friendly history. They have long operated in a largely unregulated behind-the-scenes capacity as power brokers controlling the purse strings to the pet projects of their donors,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who created the Government Audit and Oversight Committee during his first term in office. “Certainly, some of these groups are operating above board. But recent revelations have demonstrated that the opaque nature of several organizations, including the SF Parks Alliance, has aided and abetted corruption within San Francisco government.” 

In September 2020, in responding to the Board of Supervisors’ hearing request on public corruption, the Controller’s Office presented before the Government Audit and Oversight Committee a report on non-city organizations benefitting city departments. The presentation included a section specifically on the relationship between the Department of Public Works and the SF Parks Alliance based on information uncovered during the criminal investigation of Mohammed Nuru. As the former Public Works director, Nuru allegedly solicited donations from private companies or individuals and directed these donations to SF Parks Alliance sub-accounts for Public Works and influenced procurement decisions from those sub-accounts. (See Controller’s Office presentation dated on Sept. 24, 2020). SF Parks Alliance is a part of the ongoing federal and local public corruption investigations. 

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