NEWS: A New Zoning Code for Des Moines, Iowa

A new zoning proposal for the city of Des Moines, Iowa, was unanimously accepted by the city’s planning and zoning commission on August 1, 2019. Des Moines’s former zoning code, one of the fastest-growing cities in the midwest of the USA, had not been changed since 1965.

Michael Ludwig, one of the city’s planning administrators, said that the city was in need of a new set of zoning rules, to replace its disjointed, contradicting and old regulations. Thus the commission agreed on the controversial new zoning code to construct more spacious single-family housing. (Slsson, 2019)

According to the new zoning code, new homes in the residence district of Des Moines need to have a basement, a driveway, and a single car garage. Furthermore, the minimum lot sizes of single-family houses have to be between 7,500 to 10,000 square feet. There are also special required numbers for the sizes of roofs, windows, and front and back yards. Another important change is the restriction of the use of materials at certain building projects, that will limit developers in their material use in the future.

Houses with garages and basements can become quite expensive for most of the residents of Des Moines, as about 40% of people spend one-third of their income on housing. But the officials claim that the new zoning regulations will decrease the prices by simplifying the construction permitting process. Also, it is said that houses with higher values will be more beneficial for the city. Because 40% of the properties of Des Moines belong to the state and thus are tax-exempt, higher values will increase the property’s tax receipt. (Citylab, 2019)

There are many other cities and states in the USA that deal with problems on housing in different and local ways, such as Oregon and its new zoning regulations that baned single-family housing, opposite of the new zoning regulations of Des Moines.

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