New Yelm Planning Manager Aims For Positive Impact on Citizens, Environment

By Daniel Warn / dan@yelmonline.com
Posted 8/17/21

For Landon Hawes, Yelm’s new planning and building manager, city planning is not just about improving cities, but protecting their environments as well.

Hawes has five years of experience in …

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New Yelm Planning Manager Aims For Positive Impact on Citizens, Environment

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For Landon Hawes, Yelm’s new planning and building manager, city planning is not just about improving cities, but protecting their environments as well.

Hawes has five years of experience in city planning and holds a master’s degree for the occupation from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

“I think what’s really important to me ... is protecting the natural environment,” Hawes said in an interview with the Nisqually Valley News. “There’s a lot of cities that just kind of grow without thinking about the consequences to the animals and the plants and the earth that they are surrounded by.”

He said city planning can help communities be good stewards of the land on their quest for sustainable growth.

“I think planning can help bring that perspective of how we can grow and develop in a way that will be wonderful and beneficial economically for our community, but also help us be more in harmony with our surroundings and our natural environment,” Hawes said.

In a more general sense, he thinks planning gives him the opportunity to influence the lives of Yelm’s citizenry in a positive manner, he said.

“Good planning has the ability to really impact people’s lives for good, to create the built-in environment that they work in and play in and live in every day,” Hawes said. “And bad planning can really impact people negatively.”

Before he went to college, he went on a church mission for two years, emblematic of his drive to serve others, and for him, planning is also a way to serve, he said.

“It’s a very service-oriented occupation that I really think brings out the best in what government can do for people and how government can help,” Hawes said. “Every community can be helped by good planning.”

In the role of planning and building manager Hawes will have his work cut out for him. The position was created to, in part, fill the void left by Yelm planning mainstay Grant Beck’s retirement.

Reporting to Public Services Director Cody Colt, Hawes will become the resident expert on all things planning-related that happen in the city.

“Basically, I’m responsible for all planning in Yelm,” Hawes said. “The buck stops with me. I supervise several employees. One of my primary responsibilities is to make sure that their work is up to par and their customer service is great. And then I will be project manager with certain larger projects that may happen in Yelm from time to time.”



Before he obtained his master’s degree, Hawes earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies, with a minor in Chinese, from Brigham Young University (BYU) Idaho in Rexford.

Having grown up in Oregon from ages 3 to 19, he has worked as a city planner in Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and Utah.

“I bounced around a little bit, but definitely I’m excited to be back in the Northwest and hopefully will be rooted here for a very long time,” Hawes said. “I have a lot of different experience. I’ve lived in a lot of different places. So I think bringing those perspectives to this job … can be valuable.”

He said he plans to refrain from using a one-size-fits-all approach to the job and hopes to exhibit a willingness to work with people and hear new ideas.

“I try to not be a person who’s ideologically locked into one different thing,” Hawes said. “I think it’s important to, in whatever community you’re in, look at the great things about that community and the desires that people have for their city and build on those instead of trying to impose your scheme on someone else.”

When he isn’t charting out the futures of the communities he works in, Hawes can often be found reading, writing novels, enjoying the outdoors or roadtripping. Hawes has visited all 50 states.

Another thing he likes to do is make YouTube documentaries on people who make speed-runs through video games, entertainment vehicles he plays himself.

Fittingly, his original drive to become a city planner may be derived from a video game he played in his youth.

“I always joke with people that I played SimCity too much as a child and I just never wanted to stop,” Hawes said about why he became a city planner. “That’s like 20 percent of it, but I would say ... I wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

Ultimately, Hawes said he’s blessed to be able to work with a community like Yelm.

When he started in his new role last week, Colt took him on a tour of the city, an experience that left Hawes in awe, he said.

“I was just impressed,” Hawes said. “We got up on top of one of the water tanks here in Yelm and it had just this gorgeous view of (Mount) Rainier. And I thought this is just such a beautiful place. You know, living in the shadow of Rainier and having that beautiful view, this really seems like a special community. I’m proud to be here and I’m proud to have a part in helping make Yelm’s future as good as it can possibly be.”

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