He co-founded Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities to advance alternative transportation systems in cities nationwide; served as a private consultant at local, regional and state levels; taught sustainable urban and regional transportation planning at various universities, including Stanford and San Jose State; and mentored emerging planners for more than three decades.
On Feb. 14, Kott died of heart failure while at his Oakland home with his wife, Katherine. He was 71.
"Joe was a true pleasure to work with. He always had a smile on his face and was ready to talk to any resident who wanted to talk, ask questions or give opinions," former Palo Alto Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto said Tuesday.
Kishimoto said Kott represented a "changing of the guard" of transportation professionals who had been trained to get cars through town as fast as possible. He understood that "streets are for people in all modes of transportation and there has to be a balance to allow people to get places by walking, biking, transit, as well as ... vehicles," she said.
Kott worked as Palo Alto's chief transportation official during a time when the city was coping with an overflow of traffic caused by hordes of commuters coming into the city every day.
While not all of his forward-thinking ideas earned him praise in Palo Alto, colleagues considered him a hands-on visionary who didn't shy away from new and sometimes controversial traffic-calming proposals, such as roundabouts.
Kott continued an active career in city and regional planning for the remainder of his life. He earned a doctorate from Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia in 2012; held a master's degrees in regional planning and transportation and traffic engineering. He was a charter member of the American Planning Association and maintained certification with the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Kott is survived by his wife of 45 years, Katherine (Kitto) Kott; son Paul Thomas Kott; daughter, Amy Elizabeth Rands; brother-in-law William Dean Brown; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, son Andrew Joseph Kott and siblings Shirley Brown and Raymond John Kott.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., on Saturday, March 9, at Corpus Christi Church in Piedmont. A reception will follow.
This story contains 440 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.