Manny Yekutiel, Mayor London Breed’s nominee to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board, spent close to two hours Thursday evening telling community members and advocacy groups that his priority would be equity — in both access to transportation and within the agency.
“You have to get your own house in order before you can tell others to get their house in order,” he said, seemingly alluding to the lawsuit Black employees filed Wednesday against the city, and acknowledging that “there is a problem with racial discrimination within SFMTA.”
The panel, moderated by Winston Parson from the Richmond Senior Center, grilled Yekutiel on issues of race, age and class. It included The SF Taxi Workers Alliance, SF Transit Justice Coalition, SF Senior and Disability Action.
Audience members also questioned the nominee, who many know as the owner of Manny’s, a cafe, bookshop and meeting ground for civic engagement.
Yekutiel said that as a member of the seven-member board, he would address issues like the decision to close Muni lines in the Richmond and Tenderloin that seniors depend on. “Class should not be a barrier to getting around the city,” he said. “You should always be able to afford getting around our city.”
On Monday, the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee will interview Yekutiel and vote on whether to recommend him to the full board, which is set to meet again on the first Tuesday of January.
Yekutiel explained that, as a small business owner with an immigrant father and strong-willed mother, he knows how to work hard and fight for what he believes in.
“I want to make it easier for small business owners who are disproportionately represented by people of color and immigrants, and see a better relationship with SFMTA and small business owners,” he said.
Yekutiel has worked with the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association and worked on the recent closing of Valencia Street to help small businesses during the pandemic. “Shared spaces have given small businesses a lifeline of survival,” he said.
He hopes to continue to support small businesses on the SFMTA board, especially on Mission Street, where he said that the red transit-only lanes have made it challenging for some businesses. “It is possible we could take another look at forced right turns and think about how we can encourage more business on Mission Street, or think about eliminating or reducing certain registration fees for business owners.”
Yekutiel said he wanted to make the SFMTA “more transparent.” “It seems like [the SFMTA has] a little too many processes for too many things — I have lots of questions about it, and I am not afraid to ask them.”