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 were 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 September. To see a map of the 2018 Meter Changes Rollout Enforcement Dates, Click Here.

  • 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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Downtown Parking Rate Plan


Parking rates will vary from $0.25 per Hour to $1.25 per Hour. Higher prices will be charged closer to the areas of higher activity.

In the Court District after 5 PM, meters will cost $1.75 per Hour. See Downtown Parking Rate Plan for more info.

Garage parking is $1 per Hour ($10 daily max). Garages will charge on Saturdays. Parking at meters and ramps is FREE on Sunday!

Meters take smart cards and coin. Silver-topped parking “Smart Meters” also take credit card (Visa and Mastercard). (See See "HOW METERS WORK" for more info.)

For an interactive map showing each meter by rate, hours, and payment type, CLICK HERE


Over 900 FREE off-street and on-street parking spaces are available.


Look for new signage located at these lots for more information:

Monday to Friday 5 PM - 5 AM and all day on weekends.

  • 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

Monday to Friday 6 PM - 2 AM and all day on weekends.

  • SE Corner of 10th/Locust (FHLB lot by the Temple)


FREE Parking all-day in these areas, Vehicles must move every 24 Hours.

  • Pennsylvania Avenue, E Court to Des Moines Street
  • River Bridges: Walnut, Locust, and Grand (Coming Mid-May, look for the Green “FREE Parking” Meter Bags)
  • North Side of Locust, from 15th to 17th (look for the Green “FREE Parking” Meter Bags)


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, located at City Hall, 400 Robert D Ray Drive (1st Floor lobby)

  • Lost SmartCard

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