Joseph Kott, lecturer in Urban Studies, dies at 71

Feb. 20, 2019, 12:07 a.m.

Joseph Kott, Ph.D., former adjunct lecturer and visiting scholar of transportation planning in the Urban Studies program, died of a heart attack on Feb. 14 at his home in Oakland. He was 71.

Kott began teaching at Stanford in 2004 while serving as Chief Transportation Official for the city of Palo Alto. He taught URBANST 165: “Sustainable Urban and Regional Transportation Planning” off and on from then to Autumn 2017. The course evaluated the “environmental, economic and equity aspects of urban transportation in 21st-century U.S.,” its course description said.

“He was serious in his concern for the environment and for our society. For him, promoting sustainable transportation in both his policy work and his teaching was not merely an intellectual interest— it was a personal calling,” wrote co-director of the Urban Studies program Michael Kahan in an email to The Daily.

Over the course of his 30-year career in transportation planning, Kott served at several public agencies and consulting firms across the United States. In the Bay Area alone, he worked at the City of Palo Alto, County of Marin, Wilbur Smith Associates in San Francisco and Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates in San Francisco. Kott’s career specifically focused on sustainable modes of transportation, and his devotion to the area showed in his everyday life.

“The first time I met him on campus, he had just come from Palo Alto, and I asked if he had trouble finding parking on campus,” Kahan wrote. “He just laughed — he had come by bicycle, of course. He lived by his principles.”

Kahan notified the Urban Studies community at Stanford in an email Monday morning.

“Joe was very vibrant and active, physically and intellectually,” Kahan wrote. “If anything, he seemed younger than his age — after all, he earned his Ph.D. when he was in his 60s. He was always learning and growing.”

Kott received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from Wayne State University, Master of Urban & Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Master of Transport and Master of Traffic from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and a Ph.D. in urban and regional transport planning from Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia.

Kott became a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) in 1982, an organization dedicated to certifying urban planners nationwide. He was awarded a Professional Transportation Planner (PTP) certification from the Transportation Professional Certification Board Inc. in 2007, achieving the highest certification test score in the nation.

In 2011, Kott co-founded Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities (TCSC), a nonprofit corporation dedicated to promoting transportation choices that enhance environmental sustainability. TCSC advocated for sustainable transportation through research partnerships, public outreach and policy making.

After receiving his Ph.D. in 2012, Kott dedicated himself to teaching. In addition to his instruction at Stanford, Kott lectured at San Jose State University, Presidio Graduate School, Sonoma State University, Santa Clara University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Southern Maine and Husson University.

Kott was born on July 15, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan, to Joseph Frank Kott, Jr., and Catherine Szydlodski. He is survived by wife of 45 years Katherine Kott, son Paul Kott, daughter Amy Rands, brother-in-law William Brown and several members of his extended family. He was predeceased by son Andrew Kott, sister Shirley Brown, brother Raymond Kott and his parents.

“An avid reader, hiker and sports fan, Joe also found plenty of time for family, friends and his beloved Brittany Spaniels, Gabby and Hazel,” Katherine Kott wrote in an obituary. “He was loyal to his Detroit teams, a devoted father and husband and a loving presence in his extended family.”

A memorial service will be held on March 9 at 11 a.m. at Corpus Christi Church in Piedmont, California. A reception will follow.


Contact Patrick Monreal at pmonreal ‘at’

Patrick Monreal '22 is the forefather of the satire section. He still kind of hangs around meetings and pretends to contribute to news. A native of Fresno, California, he is majoring in Earth Systems on the oceans track and minoring in chemistry. Contact him at pmonreal 'at'

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