As the city's top transportation official, Mello often found himself in the middle of intense community debate about new traffic projects, including the most recent uproar over a new bike boulevard on Ross Road. After hundreds of residents complained about the changes, including a new roundabout at Meadow Drive, city leaders conceded that they should have performed more outreach and pledged to do so for future projects.
Mello's last day with the city will be Sept. 7.
"I have decided, after three years, to pursue a real estate and transportation opportunity with a local technology company," Mello wrote in a Tuesday email to residents who have worked with him.
Some of those residents praised him for his patient and collaborative approach. Neilson Buchanan worked with Mello on parking problems in downtown and John Guislin worked with him on the pilot program to redesign lanes on Middlefield Road.
"We had always found Josh to be responsive and professional," Buchanan told the Weekly. "He was always candid about what he can do and cannot do, and we were able to work with him."
Guislin said, "We are losing experienced leadership when we need it most.
"Development will continue full steam ahead and our struggling transportation infrastructure will fall further behind, worsening traffic impacts for residents," Guislin predicted.
While Mello declined to state the name of his new employer, the city's announcement stated that he'll work on "advancing multimodal mobility and help reduce single-occupancy vehicle travel on the Peninsula."
In a statement, City Manager James Keene lauded Mello for his involvement in launching and supporting some of the city's most high-profile transportation programs, including the new Residential Preferential Parking programs in downtown, Evergreen Park and Southgate, and streetscape improvements along El Camino Real.
Keene also credited Mello with securing millions of dollars in grants from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to coordinate traffic signals along University Avenue.
"Josh has dealt with some of the most important and challenging issues facing our community," Keene said. "He worked tirelessly and dedicated himself to serving our city."
Mello's departure adds to the growing list of vacancies at the highest level of City Hall. The city's planning director, public works director and chief financial officer have all recently retired. Their positions are now being filled on an interim basis. The city will also have a vacancy at the top of the Utilities Department once Assistant Manager Ed Shikada (who also serves as general manager of the Utilities Department) takes over for Keene in December.
Keene said his office will work closely with the Public Works and the Planning and Community Environment departments to "ensure continuity of critical transportation projects and provide support and leadership for the transportation staff until the recruitment for a new chief transportation official is completed."
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