Jaime Rodriguez, a traffic engineer who has worked for Milpitas and several other Bay Area cities, has been named Palo Alto's new "chief transportation official."
He replaces Gayle Likens, who retired July 1, 2009.
"I'm looking forward to probably expanding our already innovative bicycle network," he said.
"I'm also excited to work on larger regional projects and work with the residents to make the community a safer place to move around. I want to make it accessible for guests to come to the community."
Rodriguez worked as a city traffic engineer in Milpitas for five years. After leaving Milpitas in 2009, he consulted on projects for cities around the Bay Area, working on traffic-signal systems for Oakland, San Leandro and Walnut Creek. He also worked with Placer County in the Sierra foothills.
He started work in Palo Alto on Friday, July 16.
Curtis Williams, Palo Alto director of planning and community environment, said the primary function of the chief transportation official is to oversee transportation planning. His job includes taking on neighborhood requests for traffic calming, conducting bike and pedestrian studies, measuring existing parking-permit programs and handling complaints about signals and stop signs.
Likens held the position for four years until she retired last July, and the city has been looking for someone to fill the spot since. When Likens took on the position in 2005, the position was retitled "transportation manager." But the city restored original name and reorganized the position this year.
"We decided we needed to increase the salary and responsibility level," Williams said. "We chose [Rodriguez because he has a great combination of technical knowledge of transportation and traffic issues and he also has considerable experience working with the community to work through issues that they have."
Williams said Rodriguez also has a good relationship with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) that gives him an advantage.
"He interacted and was a part of the technical community," Williams said. "He has good knowledge about how to apply for grants or other regional issues we have to deal with. Those connections are useful in this job."
Rodriguez said he decided to take on the job in Palo Alto because of its positive reputation.
"I love the community and thought it would be an innovative one to work with," Rodriquez said of Palo Alto. "The city is known for being innovative and progressive when it comes to technology. That's mainly what attracted me."
He said main philosophy is to plan ahead.
"You gotta make sure all the projects move together to develop a local community," he said.
"When I think of planning I think of how the esthetics of the project will impact the surrounding life of the neighborhood. I want to do what it takes to improve the quality of life of the citizens of the city."