Parking Changes Coming to East Village

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  After years of parking headaches, the City of Des Moines is making a major play to solve parking issues in the East Village.

It’s a plan that involves three parts: increasing rates, reducing parking hour limits, and adding an additional day to charge.

“We’ve been down for 12 years and we’ve seen pretty much every change made to parking,” said Mike Draper, owner of Raygun.

Owning one of the busiest shops in the East Village, Draper has heard just about all the complaints about parking, as they come daily from his customers.

“They got a parking ticket while they were in the store. Then they got a parking ticket outside of Scenic Route Bakery,” said Draper.

The city has tried a bunch of different options to fix the parking in the East Village, including back angle parking for more spots and meters that allow drivers to pay by credit card. On Monday morning, they laid out their most ambitious plan yet.

“I kind of wish we would have done it sooner, to be honest with you,” said Des Moines City Council member Joe Gatto.

The pilot program set to launch in October will begin with raising the cost of metered parking in the East Village to $1.25 per hour, which is double what you’ll pay now. Visitors will also have to pay to park on Saturdays. It doesn’t stop there--the new program will also cap the time people can park in one spot to just a couple hours, which is much lower than the current 10-hour limit. 

Jennifer McCoy is the Traffic Manager for Des Moines. She knows people will think this is just a money grab for the city, but for her it’s about helping the businesses in the East Village.

“It’s really about managing our parking. We have adequate parking, but when it’s cheap and you can stay there, because it’s a four or ten-hour meter, then you don’t get the turnover. That turnover is what you need to support the businesses,” said McCoy.

With the growing number of people working and living in the East Village, McCoy is finding people are using these spots intended for retail as long-term parking. When one car holds down a spot all day, no other potential patrons can park and spend money. Get them in and get them out is what they want to do, and the city council agrees this will help.

“This is going to increase revenues for the folks in the East Village, the business owners,” said Council member Joe Gatto.

Draper wants the program to work, but he hopes this doesn’t scare away customers who are afraid of getting a ticket.

“I think some of the enforcement right now is built on writing as many tickets for as many things as possible. Which, I think is, personally, the biggest change they need to make is from an administrative standpoint,” said Draper.

This program will launch in October, and if the city likes the results it will likely be put in place throughout downtown.