It’s shocking and a tragic irony that Alan Justad, a longtime staffer who’d retired five years ago from what then was Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development and in charge of building permits, would fall victim to a construction crane.

Over three decades on the job, I got to know and like Alan for his openness and accessibility. He was my go-to guy for data our organization needed to track the loss of low-income housing due to redevelopment.

I recall vividly thinking when he retired, and wish now I’d told him directly, that Alan really was one of the last (and best) of a now long gone generation of planners at City Hall. To Alan, citizens were never defined as a nuisance. The customer was the community, not developers in blue suits standing at the permit counter.

The gods of runaway growth now running City Hall brought short the life of a good man dedicated to objective planning and open government.

John V. Fox, director, Seattle Displacement Coalition