plan dsm logo

The Zoning, Planning, and Design 
Ordinance has been approved 
by City Council.

City of Des Moines is planning for 2040 and beyond

Following a 19 month process involving extensive public outreach to all areas of the City, PlanDSM has been adopted and is now official policy for the City. With a vision of how the City will evolve into the future, PlanDSM will be a basis for land use decisions and new capital projects. The proposed zoning ordinance public hearing draft is available below under the "New Zoning Ordinance" section. Share your comments with City staff via the Get In Touch With Us section.


About the Plan

PlanDSM | Creating Our Tomorrow  is the City of Des Moines' Comprehensive Plan for how it will grow into the future. It consists of a vision statement of values the City considers important for the future; goals and policies for eight different Plan elements; a separate element addressing social equity; an implementation chapter describing how the Plan can be realized; and, a Future Land Use Map.

Get Involved

Reports & Plans

New Zoning Ordinance

PlanDSM, the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and GuideDSM, the City Council’s Strategic Plan, identify the need for a new zoning code as a top priority. The Public Hearing Draft for a new Chapter 134 (Zoning) and new Chapter 135 (Planning and Design), as posted here on the website, are the result of over three years of work that has included initial code drafting, an extended public comment period, review and discussion by staff of all public comments, and preparation of a revised code by the consultant team and staff.

As the first comprehensive rewrite of the City's zoning ordinance since 1965, the Public Hearing Draft Ordinance continues to implement the policies of PlanDSM by preserving and enhancing the existing character of the City's neighborhoods; emphasizing urban design and quality development; providing a more user friendly format; and providing greater predictability in development for neighborhoods and developers.

Individual sections of the Approved Zoning, Planning, and Design Ordinance can be downloaded below.

Approved PlanDSM Zoning Application

Address search for current and proposed zoning

Zoning App

News & Events

Zoning has become a political lightning rod. Just ask Des Moines

"The city’s zoning code hasn’t been updated since 1965. Instead, it’s been amended over 300 times in the preceding decades. Ludwig’s vision is to replace a disjointed, conflicting set of regulations with something that encourages the kind of development Des Moines needs: denser, closer to transit, and ideally more affordable. By eliminating code contradictions, the city could raise the quality and predictability of the development process."

Please see the following project schedule for continued opportunities to learn about the content of the public hearing draft and to offer any final comments that may result in revisions to the code prior to its approval.

  • May 17, 2019* – Release of Public Hearing Draft
  • June 5, 2019* – Developer Meeting on Public Hearing Draft @ 1-3pm at MSC Board Room
  •  June 5, 2019* – Public meeting on Public Hearing Draft @ 6-8pm at Des Moines Central Library
  • June 6, 2019* – Plan and Zoning Commission Workshop @ 4-6pm at MSC Board Room
  • June 11, 2019* – Steering Committee Workshop @ 1-5pm at MSC Board Room
  • June 20, 2019* – Plan and Zoning Commission Workshop @ 4-6pm at MSC Board Room
  • June 27, 2019* Updated Steering Committee Workshop @ 1-5pm at MSC Board Room 
  • July 18, 2019*Plan and Zoning Commission Public Hearing @ 6pm at MSC Board Room
  • July 25, 2019* Updated – Steering Committee Workshop @ 1-5pm at MSC Board Room
  • August 1, 2019*Plan and Zoning Commission Public Hearing and Recommendation @ 6pm at MSC Board Room
  • August 19, 2019* City Council Set Date of Hearing @ 4:30pm at City Council Chambers
  • August 26, 2019* Updated -- City Council Work Session @ 7:30am at City Council Chambers
  • September 9, 2019* Updated time - City Council Hearing (1st Reading) @ 5:00pm at City Council Chambers
  • September 23, 2019* -- City Council Hearing (2nd Reading) @ 4:30pm at City Council Chambers
  • October 14, 2019* -- City Council Hearing (3rd Reading) @ 4:30pm at City Council Chambers
  • December 15, 2019* Updated -- Anticipated effective date of new code

*Please check this schedule frequently for updates.

  • The MSC Board Room is located on the second floor of the Richard A. Clark Municipal Service Center located at 1551 East Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway.
  • The City Council Chambers are located on the second floor of the City Hall Building at 400 Robert D. Ray Drive.
  • The Des Moines Central Library is located is located at 1000 Grand Avenue, Des Moines.

Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter @PlanDSM

If you have questions, please contact Michael Ludwig at 515-283-4182 or

Proposed Zoning, Planning, and Design Ordinance Informational Meeting
(June 5, 2019)

Couldn't make a public meeting on the Zoning, Planning, and Design Ordinance Public Hearing Draft? Listen to the questions, responses, and comments shared at the June 5, 2019 Developer Meeting on the Public Hearing Draft. And check the schedule above for upcoming meetings. 

Why update the 1965 Zoning Code?

The City of Des Moines’ current zoning code was written in 1965. Over those 54 years, more than 300 amendments have been added to the code. This has created conflicting procedures and inefficient processes which have led to permitting delays and frustration. A new zoning, planning, and design ordinance for the City of Des Moines will provide greater predictability, efficiency, and a more focused urban design for developers and neighborhoods.

Recognition & Awards

PlanDSM & Des Moines Diversity Highlighted by National APA

Planning Administrator Michael Ludwig discusses the background and outreach efforts that went into developing PlanDSM: Creating Our Tomorrow with Anna Read from American Planning Association.

PlanDSM Recognized for Comprehensive Plan Standards for Sustaining Places 

APA Comprehensive Plan Silver Award

PlanDSM: Creating Our Tomorrow was recognized by the American Planning Association (APA) for its values-based vision for the City of Des Moines and for integrating sustainability throughout the plan. The APA awarded PlanDSM the silver level, highest awarded this year. For more information, view the APA's announcement.

APA-Iowa 2016 Daniel Burnham Award For A Comprehensive Plan

IA APA Banner

Awarded by the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association to the City of Des Moines for PlanDSM: Creating Our Tomorrow, recognizing innovation and insight in creating a sustainable vision for Des Moines as it continues to grow into the future.

Steering Committee

T. M. Franklin Cownie, Mayor
Joe Gatto, City Council
Dr. Tom Ahart, Des Moines Schools Superintendent
Todd Ashby, Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
Pam Carmichael, Home Inc.
George Davis, Park and Recreation Board  
Vacant, Transportation Safety Committee
Larry James, Jr., ULI Iowa
Greg Jones, Plan and Zoning Commission 

Jeremy Lewis, Street Collective
Colleen MacRae, Urban Design Review Board  
Frank Owens, Neighborhood Revitalization Board  
Mel Pins, Zoning Board of Adjustment  
Elizabeth Presutti, General Manager DART
Scott Sanders, City Manager
Meg Schneider, Greater Des Moines Partnership
Rick Tollakson, Hubbell Realty Company

Contact Information

If you have questions, or cannot attend any of these meetings, please contact Michael Ludwig:

City of Des Moines logo

Get in Touch with Us

A name is required.
A valid email address is required.
A message is required.