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Breed nominates cafe owner, activist to serve SFMTA board

Manny Yekutiel, owner of Manny’s cafe near 16th and Valencia streets, has been tapped by Mayor London Breed to serve on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors.

Breed said in a statement Monday:

“I am confident in his ability to bring a fresh perspective to the Board and represent the needs of San Francisco small businesses and residents alike. Manny knows how to bring people together and make sure everyone has a chance to share their diverse perspectives.”

The mayor added that he is a regular rider of public transportation and recently played a major role in closing a two-block stretch of Valencia Street on weekends to support small businesses. The closure is part of The City’s Shared Spaces program that allows restaurants to use more outdoor area for diners.

Besides playing a role in the Shared Spaces program on Valencia Street, Yekutiel also served on the SFMTA’s mitigation task force for the 16th Street Improvement Project — a project that focused on improving bus service along the 22-Fillmore route.

Yekutiel, who came from Los Angeles and currently lives in the Castro, expressed in a statement that he was “humbled and honored” to be nominated, adding:

“Mobility is freedom and it’s my belief that a City like ours should aim to create access to that freedom to everyone, everywhere. Our transportation system can and should do that.”

The nominee has used Manny’s as a space to encourage local civic engagement, holding events for candidates and discussions focused on various issues. In the Covid-19 era, Yekutiel turned to virtual platforms to host events for the likes of SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin and to facilitate transit-related discussions.

Kevin Lowery Manny Yekutiel hugs Senator Cory Booker outside a young professionals event held at Manny’s in San Francisco, Calif. on June 2, 2019. The restaurant owner has been nominated for a seat on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board by Mayor London Breed.

Yekutiel’s restaurant kitchen — run by the nonprofit Farming Hope — hires and trains formerly homeless and incarcerated persons in kitchen and restaurant industry skills.

SFMTA director seats and nominations have made headlines this year, beginning with former Director Cristina Rubke who was not reappointed to the board after she voted in favor of Muni fare increases. It should be noted that all directors voted in support for the same budget, but were not up for reappointment.

The mayor later nominated Sharon Lai and Jane Natoli. Supervisors approved Lai’s nomination but rejected Natoli, which drew sharp criticism from Breed and the nominee’s supporters.

If Yekutiel makes through the nomination process, including a Board of Supervisors Rules Committee hearing and all-supervisor vote, the mayor will still have one more SFMTA board seat to fill.

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