Both of Mayor London Breed’s nominations to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors are progressing to full vote at the Board of Supervisors. Those present at the Rules Committee Monday said they were impressed by the caliber of the mayor’s selections.
The committee Monday voted unanimously to approve nominations for small business owner Emanuel ‘Manny’ Yekutiel and disability advocate Fiona Hinze. The full board will vote in January.
Yekutiel, owner of Manny’s, a restaurant and civic engagement space at 16th and Valencia streets, said the relationship between small businesses and transportation has never been more important than it is now in age of Covid-19.
Noting that while many businesses have closed since March due to the pandemic, he applauded the transit agency’s effort to help some businesses survive with implementation of Shared Spaces and Slow Streets programs, adding:
“SFMTA has a unique ability over the next three to four years to save small businesses in The City, and it is why I am very excited to be able to represent them on this board.”
Yekutiel, who hails from Los Angeles and moved to The City 10 years ago, also sits on the Small Business Commission.
Besides his experience as a small business owner, he said his background as a community organizer for immigration and LGBTQ rights, and his work on three presidential campaigns uniquely qualifies him to serve the board.
“I would bring an organizer’s perspective, hearing all voices, bring people together, as well as advocating for the tenants of social justice to this work.”
He added that if he is not confirmed, he will still work to involve small businesses earlier in the outreach process for transit project planning.
Hinze, a city native living in the outer Richmond, currently works as the director of systems change for Independent Living Resource Center. There, she tracks local and state advocacy issues and attends community and task force meetings.
As someone who lives with cerebral palsy, Hinze often travels using paratransit and navigates city streets on her motorized wheelchair. Hinze sits on the Paratransit Coordinating Council to ensure the paratransit service is runs efficiently for seniors and persons with disabilities.
Hinze said it is critical the transit agency completes capital projects on time and that board members not act as a “rubber stamp” for the SFMTA.
Both nominees said pedestrian safety hits close to home. Yekuitel said his father and grandfather were hit by vehicles several years ago and sustained serious injuries.
Hinze has worked with advocacy groups like the Senior and Disability Action, and calls for more speed enforcement and educational tools to advance street safety.
Referring to the The City’s goal of zero traffic-related deaths by 2024, she said:
“The Vision Zero clock is ticking.”
Hinze added that she supports programs like the Shared Spaces and Slow Streets, adding that more creative solutions are needed to make the right of way accessible for all, including persons who use mobility devices.
Both received praise from the members of the public who called into the meeting and encouraged supervisors to recommend the nominees advance to the full board vote.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen said:
“Stepping up during this time is really a heroic act. You’re not stepping into an organization when it’s thriving, you’re stepping into an organization when it’s in crisis. That willingness to take on this role is just incredilably admirable and I really appreciate you both for that.”