Des Moines

Parking in Downtown
Des Moines

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The city has launched a new parking strategy for downtown Des Moines to manage parking to support area businesses and a changing 24-7 downtown with a mix of uses.

The purpose is to increase available parking in downtown by adding more on-street parking spaces, creating FREE parking areas, and changing rates and expanding times at the parking meters and parking ramps to create a system that is simple and fair for residents, business owners, employees, and visitors.

  • Changes will start on January 1, 2018 with all garages beginning to charge on Saturdays, and reducing rates to as low as $1/HR

  • Parking meter changes will be made in the Court District beginning January 17, 2018

  • Changes in the East Village and Sculpture Park area are coming in Spring/Summer 2018

  • Remainder of Downtown to be changed by the end of calendar year 2018.

  • Take Note!

    As changes are made to meters they will be marked with a sticker displayed on the meter. Signs will also be placed to inform parkers.

What's Changing

Look for:

  • FREE or discounted parking areas in surface lots and on the periphery of downtown.

  • More on-street parking spaces and removal of peak hour parking restrictions in key areas.

  • Decreased hourly rates in parking ramps to encourage long term parking in the ramps as on-street meters change to charge from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Mon to Sat.

  • Improved wayfinding to off-street public parking options. Follow the blue

  • New installations of the credit card Smart Meters in core areas. See "HOW METERS WORK" for more info.

  • For more information on these changes CLICK HERE to see Council Presentation

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Parking Changes in Court District

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Beginning January 17, 2018, parking in the Court District area will require payment Monday to Saturday from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM at a rate of $1.25 per hour until 5pm. After 5pm, parking at the meters will cost $1.75 per hour.

Garage parking will be reduced to $1 per Hour ($10 daily max). Event Parking will be reduced to $5 per vehicle. Garages will charge on Saturdays.

Parking at meters and ramps is FREE on Sunday!

Smart Meters in this area take a variety of payments options: smart card, credit card (Visa and Mastercard), and coin. (See See "HOW METERS WORK" for more info.)


The city has worked with Polk County to offer nearly 300 FREE off-street parking spaces in the Court District.

The Polk County lots are free Monday to Friday
5 pm - 5 am and all day on weekends. Look for the new signage located at these lots for more information:

  • 5th & Cherry St Courthouse Lot
  • 5th & Wagner Courthouse Lot
  • NE corner of 2nd & Court Avenue Polk County Administration Lot
  • SW corner of 2nd & Court Avenue Election Office Lot


The Court District has “silver-top” IPS Credit Card Meters. IPS Meters are not only convenient because they take credit cards, nickels, dimes and quarters but with the more traditional M5 Single Space Meter, you simply pull up, pay and walk away. It’s that simple. Watch this Demonstration Video and see for yourself. San Diego-based IPS Group, Inc. is a design, engineering and manufacturing company focused on low power wireless telecommunications and parking technologies.

How Will the Parking Changes Be Evaluated?

The goal of this new strategy is to manage on-street and off-street parking to support area businesses and a changing 24-7 downtown with a mix of retail, restaurant, and residential uses.

Existing occupancy of on-street parking spaces will be compared with new data collected after the modifications to gauge changes in parking availability and turnover. Sales tax receipts before and after the changes will also be compared.

City staff will continue to review rates and times at the parking meters and ramps to create a system that is simple and fair for residents, businesses owners, employees, and visitors with the desired results to support an everchanging downtown Des Moines.

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For more information on City of Des Moines Parking CLICK HERE Or Call: 515-283-4973

To appeal or pay a parking ticket; visit the Clerks Office Page for appeal or click here to Pay Online.

For City of Des Moines parking questions or general comments:

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The SmartCard is a great payment alternative that works in most of the city’s 3,500 metered parking spaces. The Smart Card is a pre-paid parking card. The user preloads a set amount of value to the card and then can use it as payment at any of the on-street meters in downtown that have the SmartCard Logo on the outside.


A person can insert the SmartCard into a parking meter and buy time on the meter. If there is time left on the meter when the person returns, they can reinsert the same SmartCard and have the remaining value on the meter refunded back to their SmartCard. You only pay for what you use!

  • Note

    You can only refund back to the same SmartCard that put the value on the meter.


The City of Des Moines has provided four automated SmartCard vending machines where cards can be purchased for $5 and value placed on the card using cash, MasterCard or VISA. SmartCard vending machines are located at:

  • 3rd Street and Court Avenue Parking Garage office (on the 2nd Ave side)

  • 9th Street and Locust Street Parking Garage office (on the corner of 8th & Grand)

  • 5th Street and Grand Avenue (YMCA lobby)

  • City Hall Admin Offices, located at 400 E Court, Suite 200

  • Lost SmartCard

    Because the SmartCard has value, it should be safeguarded. There are no refunds for lost, stolen or damaged cards.