New Ferris wheel at Boardwalk to be considered by Planning Commission – Santa Cruz Sentinel

New Ferris wheel at Boardwalk to be considered by Planning Commission – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Boardwalk workers use a cutting torch Monday to dismantle the amusement park’s Ferris wheel, which dates from 1959. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

SANTA CRUZ — Thursday evening, the Santa Cruz Planning Commission will consider the construction of a new Ferris wheel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, named the Chance Wheel, which would replace the classic car-inspired Rock and Roll ride located across from the iconic Giant Dipper roller coaster.

Having been without a Ferris wheel at the Boardwalk since the previous slowly spinning ride, built in 1959, was removed in 2017, the Santa Cruz Seaside Co. is seeking to construct a 70-foot tall replacement, which is about 30 feet taller than the beach zoning district allows. Because of the proposed height, the project would need a special use permit to move forward, and would also require a coastal permit and design permit because it involves construction of commercial structures in the coastal appeal zone, which will be decided by the Santa Cruz Planning Commission on Thursday evening.

According to the agenda report, the Chance Wheel will take up about 2,200 square feet and will feature 15 gondolas, in alternating colors of yellow, orange and pink that can seat up to four adults or six children at a time, while the wheel and spokes will be painted blue. The spokes will also feature LED theatrical lighting with the ability to change color.

The agenda report points out that the previous Ferris wheel, dismantled in 2017, was 66 feet high and that other current rides at the Boardwalk are consistent with the Chance Wheel’s proposed height of 68 feet such as the Giant Dipper at 69 feet tall, the Undertow ride at 66 feet and the Double Shot tower, which stands at 125 feet high.

Planning staff wrote that the lighting and noise that would be created by the Chance Wheel are consistent with the rest of the Boardwalk and shouldn’t create any problems in the area. The staff notes that because the Chance Wheel is not a thrill ride that induces or encourages screaming, the noise created while it’s in operation will not have an adverse impact on the adjacent properties or the existing Boardwalk.

The staff also highlighted in the report that the ride should not serve as a hazard to local and migratory birds and that, “A letter was also provided from the Santa Cruz Seaside Co. specifying that during 116 years of operation at the Boardwalk, there have been no observance of injured or dead birds at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk caused by Boardwalk rides and operations.”

Planning staff predict that the ride will contribute to the overall economic health and vitality of the area by, “adding to the variety and diversity of amusement park rides at the Boardwalk,” which will attract more visitors and residents, and recommends that the Planning Commission approve all the permits associated with the addition of the structure.

For information about the in-person meeting, visit

If you go

What: Santa Cruz Planning Commission meeting.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday.

Where: City Hall, 809 Center St., Santa Cruz.



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