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Frequently Asked Questions
  • Animals & Pets
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: Why should I license my pet?
        • A: Obtaining the annual tag is required by City Ordinance, and enables the City to contact you immediately should your pet be found.

      • Q: What is the cost of a pet license?
        • A: A spayed or neutered pet may be licensed for a fee of $15.00; a non-spayed or non-neutered pet is $35.00. A senior citizen may license one cat for $5.00 and one dog for $5.00 with any additional pets at regular rates. A service dog may be licensed at no charge when proof is provided. Any application received after March 31st will be assessed a $50 late fee, with the following exceptions:
          • If you obtain a new pet under the age of six months, you are not required to purchase a license until the animal is six months old.
          • If you are a new resident of Des Moines, you are required to purchase a license immediately

        • Animal License Application
      • Q: What is the license fee used for?
        • A: Fees collected for animal licenses are deposited into the City’s general fund and are used for enforcement of animal ordinances and to fund expenses for the Animal Shelter.

      • Q: What if my pet has a license from another City?
        • A: You may bring the current tag issued from another City, along with a current rabies certificate, and we will exchange your existing tag, at no charge, for a City of Des Moines pet license.

      • Q: What information do I need to obtain a pet license?
        • A: You will need to submit a current rabies certificate and proof of spay or neuter, if applicable, along with the application and required fee.

      • Q: What is required for proof of a service dog?
        • A: We accept a certificate or letter of completion from any recognized training facility stating the animal has been trained to assist a person with a disability. Please contact the City Clerk's Office at 283-4209, option #3.

      • Q: Where can I purchase a City of Des Moines pet license?
        • A: You may purchase your license in the City Clerk’s Office, City Hall, 400 Robert D Ray Drive or print the application form which is available on the City of Des Moines website and mail it with the appropriate information and fee to City Clerk’s Office, PO Box 10326, Des Moines, IA 50306-0326.

      • Q: Are there any restrictions for a Pit Bull?
        • A: Des Moines’ ordinance defines any Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, American Pit Bull Terrier breed of dog, American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog or any dog that has the appearance and characteristics of being predominately of the breeds of Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, or American Staffordshire Terrier as vicious. The owner of such an animal must provide a current rabies certificate, written proof of spaying/neutering, if applicable, proof of insurance coverage, as in a homeowners policy, with a minimum liability amount of $100,000 in addition to a letter from the agent on his/her letterhead that states the insured’s vicious dog, by name, is specifically covered by the policy in force. The pet must be confined as required by Section 18-56 of the Municipal Code.

      • Q: What happens if I don’t license my pet?
        • A: Any owner of any unlicensed pet is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be punished by a fine up to $500 or by imprisonment up to 30 days.

      • Q: What is the limit on the numbers of dogs/cats I may have living at my residence?
        • A: City Ordinance allows a total of six cats and dogs, not more than three* of which may be dogs, per household.

      • Q: If I have four dogs, am I in violation of the ordinance?
        • A: *Not necessarily. The ordinance allows the City Clerk to grant a waiver of the three-dog limit for one additional dog under the following conditions:1. The dog's full grown weight is not more than 20 pounds as certified in writing by a veterinarian (certification must be within thirty days prior to purchasing license), 2. The owner provides a current rabies vaccination certificate for the dog, 3. The owner provides proof the dog has been spayed or neutered, and 4. No more than two cats reside on the property subject to the waiver. The waiver certificate shall be maintained by the owner, and must be available upon request.

      • Q: What are the requirements for pet waste?
        • A: No owner or possessor, or person in charge of a dog, cat, horse or other animal shall fail to clean up or remove immediately any excrement or droppings deposited by such dog, cat, horse or other animal on any public or private property not owned or in control of that owner, possessor or person in charge of such dog, cat, horse or other animal. In addition, the owner of the pet is also required to remove any excrement or droppings from his or her property.

      • Q: Does the City of Des Moines have a leash law?
        • A: Yes, if the dog is on the owner's property it must be restrained by an adequate protective fence or by leash, cord, chain or other similar restraint or the pet must be at all times within the actual physical presence of and immediately obedient to the commands of the owner or person given charge of the dog and at no time be more than six feet from such person. If the dog is off the owner's premises it must be on a leash, cord, or chain or other similar restraint not more than six feet in length and under the control of a person competent to restrain and control the dog. Cats are not required to be leashed; however, if a cat is not confined within a premise, it is required to be spayed or neutered, and properly licensed.

      • Q: Is there a noise ordinance regarding barking dogs?
        • A: Yes. No person shall own, possess or harbor any animal or bird which frequently or for continued duration emits sounds native to the species which are a noise disturbance across a residential real property boundary or within a noise sensitive area.

      • Q: Who do I contact if my pet is lost?
        • A: Effective July 23, 2005, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa began providing animal shelter services for the City of Des Moines. Anyone who has lost a pet is encouraged to visit the ARL of Iowa Animal Care and Control Center at 1615 SE 14th Street in Des Moines. We also encourage more than one visit to the shelter because stray animals are found daily and taken to the shelter. We recommend that pets display ID tags/licenses and rabies tags and/or microchips for identification, so the City can quickly return them to their families.

      • Q: When does a tenant with a disability have a right to have a pet?
        • A: You have the right to keep a service animal, if it is required for health reasons, even in a “no pet” community. Animals trained to assist or support those who are blind, deaf, suffer depression, or mobility-impairment can be deemed medically necessary.

      • Q: How do I report a barking dog?
        • A: If you have a problem with a barking dog and would like to report it during normal business hours (M-F, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, call our Animal Control Unit at (515) 283-4811.
           
          After hours or on weekends, call the Des Moines Police Department Non-Emergency Dispatch line at (515) 283-4811.

      • Q: How do I report an animal bite?
        • A: Any victim bitten by a warm blooded animal or owner of any animal which bites a human or another animal should immediately report that incident by calling the Animal Control Unit (515) 283-4811 or the Des Moines Police Department (515) 283-4811.

      • Q: How do I report a stray dog?
        • A: Des Moines Animal Control Unit will attempt to catch any stray dogs or cats that roam your neighborhood. If you have a continuous problem with stray animals, you may request a live trap to be placed at your residence.
           
          To report a stray animal contact the Animal Control Unit at (515) 283-4811 (M-F 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.) After hours or on weekends, call the Des Moines Police Department Non-Emergency Dispatch Line at (515) 283-4811.

    • Where, Where do I; Where can; Where . . .?
      • Q: Where do I go to adopt a new pet?
        • A: There are many pets of various breed and ages awaiting a new home and available through the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. These pets are available at the following locations: • Southridge Mall, 1111 E. Army Post Road, (515) 473-9134 • 5452 NE 22nd Street, (515) 262-9503 • 1500 22nd Street, West Des Moines, (515) 473-9133 • PetSmart, 1715 Delaware, Ankeny, (515) 289-0667.

  • Assistance
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: Who do I contact if my pet is lost?
        • A: Effective July 23, 2005, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa began providing animal shelter services for the City of Des Moines. Anyone who has lost a pet is encouraged to visit the ARL of Iowa Animal Care and Control Center at 1615 SE 14th Street in Des Moines. We also encourage more than one visit to the shelter because stray animals are found daily and taken to the shelter. We recommend that pets display ID tags/licenses and rabies tags and/or microchips for identification, so the City can quickly return them to their families.

      • Q: How do I apply for a job with the City?
        • A: Call the JOB LINE at (515) 283-4115 or go to Human Resources (Room 103) in City Hall at 400 E. First Street.
           
          You can now apply online by clicking on the job title you are interested in and clicking on the "Apply" link! If this is the first time you are applying using our online job application, you will need to create an account and select a Username and Password.
          After your account has been established, you can build an application by clicking on the "Build Job Application" link. This application can be saved and used to apply for more than one job opening.

        • Des Moines Jobs
      • Q: How is online application information secured?
        • A: Online applications are stored on a secure site. Only authorized employees and hiring authorities have access to the information submitted.
          It is important that your application show all the relevant education and experience you possess. Applications may be rejected if incomplete.  Please make sure you answer all supplemental questions that might be related to the job posting.

      • Q: When are the public accommodations provisions effective?
        • A: In general, they became effective on January 26, 1992.

      • Q: What does the ADA require in new construction?
        • A: The ADA requires that all new construction of places of public accommodation, as well as of "commercial facilities" such as office buildings, be accessible. Elevators are generally not required in facilities under three stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless the building is a shopping center or mall; the professional office of a health care provider; a terminal, depot, or other public transit station; or an airport passenger terminal.

      • Q: How much does it cost to make all newly constructed places of public accommodation and commercial facilities accessible?
        • A: The cost of incorporating accessibility features in new construction is less than one percent of construction costs. This is a small price in relation to the economic benefits to be derived from full accessibility in the future, such as increased employment and consumer spending and decreased welfare dependency.

      • Q: Would it be necessary to make every feature of a new facility accessible?
        • A: No, only a specified number of elements such as parking spaces and drinking fountains must be made accessible in order for a facility to be "readily accessible." Certain non-occupiable spaces such as elevator pits, elevator penthouses, and piping or equipment catwalks need not be accessible.

      • Q: What are the ADA requirements for altering facilities?
        • A: All alterations that could affect the usability of a facility must be made in an accessible manner to the maximum extent feasible. For example, if during renovations a doorway is being relocated, the new doorway must be wide enough to meet the new construction standard for accessibility. When alterations are made to a primary function area, such as the lobby of a bank or the dining area of a cafeteria, an accessible path of travel to the altered area must also be provided.

      • Q: What kinds of auxiliary aids and services are required by the ADA to ensure effective communication with individuals with hearing or vision impairments?
        • A: Appropriate auxiliary aids and services may include services and devices such as qualified interpreters, assistive listening devices, note takers, and written materials for individuals with hearing impairments; and qualified readers, taped texts, and brailed or large print materials for individuals with vision impairments.

      • Q: When are there limitations on the ADA's auxiliary aids requirements?
        • A: The ADA does not require the provision of any auxiliary aid that would result in an undue burden or in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the goods or services provided by a public accommodation. However, the public accommodation is not relieved from the duty to furnish an alternative auxiliary aid, if available, that would not result in a fundamental alteration or undue burden. Both of these limitations are derived from existing regulations and case law under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and are to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

      • Q: When are restaurants required to have brailed menus?
        • A: Only if waiters or other employees are not made available to read the menu to a blind customer.

      • Q: Will a bookstore be required to maintain a sign language interpreter on its staff in order to communicate with deaf customers?
        • A: No, not if employees communicate by pen and notepad when necessary.

      • Q: What are the limitations, if any on the ADA's barrier removal requirements for existing facilities?
        • A: Barrier removal limitations do exist. Barrier removal need be accomplished only when it is "readily achievable" to do so.

      • Q: What does the term "readily achievable" mean?
        • A: It means "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."

      • Q: What are examples of the types of modifications that would be readily achievable in most cases?
        • A: Examples include the simple ramping of a few steps, the installation of grab bars where only routine reinforcement of the wall is required, the lowering of telephones, and similar modest adjustments.

      • Q: Will businesses need to rearrange furniture and display racks?
        • A: Possibly. For example, restaurants may need to rearrange tables and department stores may need to adjust their layout of racks and shelves in order to permit access to wheelchair users.

      • Q: Will businesses need to install elevators?
        • A: Businesses are not required to retrofit their facilities to install elevators unless such installation is readily achievable, which is unlikely in most cases.

      • Q: When barrier removal is not readily achievable, what kinds of alternative steps are required by the ADA?
        • A: Alternatives may include such measures as in-store assistance for removing articles from inaccessible shelves, home delivery of groceries, or coming to the door to receive or return dry cleaning.

      • Q: What alternative steps must be taken without regard to cost?
        • A: None, only readily achievable alternative steps must be undertaken.

      • Q: How is "readily achievable" determined in a multisite business?
        • A: In determining whether an action to make a public accommodation accessible would be "readily achievable," the overall size of the parent corporation or entity is only one factor to be considered. The ADA also permits consideration of the financial resources of the particular facility or facilities involved and the administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities to the parent entity.

      • Q: Who has responsibility for ADA compliance in leased places of public accommodation, the landlord or the tenant?
        • A: The ADA places the legal obligation to remove barriers or provide auxiliary aids and services on both the landlord and the tenant. The landlord and the tenant may decide by lease that will actually make the changes and provide the aids and services, but both remain legally responsible.

      • Q: When is a business be entitled to any tax benefit to help pay for the cost of compliance?
        • A: As amended in 1990, the Internal Revenue Code allows a deduction of up to $15,000 per year for expenses associated with the removal of qualified architectural and transportation barriers. The 1990 amendment also permits eligible small businesses to receive a tax credit for certain costs of compliance with the ADA. An eligible small business is one whose gross receipts do not exceed $1,000,000 or whose workforce does not consist of more than 30 full- time workers. Qualifying businesses may claim a credit of up to 50 percent of eligible access expenditures that exceed $250 but do not exceed $10,250. Examples of eligible access expenditures include the necessary and reasonable costs of removing architectural, physical, communications, and transportation barriers; providing readers, interpreters, and other auxiliary aids; and acquiring or modifying equipment or devices.

      • Q: When does the ADA cover private apartments and private homes?
        • A: The ADA does not cover strictly residential private apartments and homes. If, however, a place of public accommodation, such as a doctor's office or day care center, is located in a private residence, those portions of the residence used for that purpose are subject to the ADA's requirements.

      • Q: Who pays to make public and common areas accessible to those with disabilities?
        •  A: Multi-family housing that was first occupied after March 13, 1991, should have been constructed with accessible units, public and common areas. If not, the units and common use areas may have to be changed at no charge to the tenant. For older units, the tenant may have to pay for the changes. Changes to common use areas do not have to be changed back.

      • Q: How can a tenant get a reasonable accommodation – a change in a rule, service, policy or procedure so that disabled tenants may have full use of the property?
        • A: A tenant must ask for a reasonable accommodation. The landlord is not responsible for suggesting an accommodation. A tenant needs to show that the change is needed so that she/he has an equal opportunity to use the dwelling. A tenant may need to have medical or doctor statements to support the request for accommodation.

      • Q: What does the law say about a landlord setting a minimum income level to qualify for a property?
        • A: A landlord may set a minimum income level to quality for a property.  If the landlord sets a minimum standard it should be used for all applicants, not just one group or another.

      • Q: When would it be lawful for a real estate agent to show only certain properties or neighborhoods to potential renters or buyers because of race?
        • A: Never. This action is called “steering”. It is unlawful discrimination for an agent to restrict a client’s housing search to a neighborhood because of race or because of any other protected characteristic.

      • Q: When is it acceptable for a loan officer to offer a lower interest rate on home mortgages to white applicants but not others?
        • A: Financial institutions may evaluate a person’s financial ability to pay back a home loan, but all decisions affecting the loan – including the interest rate, points, and other fees should not be based on race or any other protected characteristic.

      • Q: When can a landlord ask about your disability?
        • A: Never unless you are: - Applying for housing set aside for people with disabilities - Asking for a “reasonable accommodation.” Then a landlord may ask you to show how your disability creates a need for that change.

      • Q: What can a landlord charge you an extra deposit?
        • A:  A landlord can’t charge people with disabilities a higher general deposit. It is discrimination to charge tenants with disabilities more. Even if a landlord worries that a wheelchair may bump into walls or wear out carpet, he cannot make the deposit higher. However, a landlord may be able to charge an extra deposit if a tenant asks for a reasonable modification.

      • Q: How can a tenant get a reasonable accommodation?
        • A: A tenant must ASK for a reasonable accommodation. The landlord is not responsible for suggesting an accommodation. The tenant must show that the change is needed so that she has an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling. In some cases, a tenant may need to have a doctor or other expert support her request.

      • Q: When does a tenant with a disability have a right to have a pet?
        • A: You have the right to keep a service animal, if it is required for health reasons, even in a “no pet” community. Animals trained to assist or support those who are blind, deaf, suffer depression, or mobility-impairment can be deemed medically necessary.

    • Where, Where do I; Where can; Where . . .?
      • Q: Where do I go to adopt a new pet?
        • A: There are many pets of various breed and ages awaiting a new home and available through the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. These pets are available at the following locations: • Southridge Mall, 1111 E. Army Post Road, (515) 473-9134 • 5452 NE 22nd Street, (515) 262-9503 • 1500 22nd Street, West Des Moines, (515) 473-9133 • PetSmart, 1715 Delaware, Ankeny, (515) 289-0667.

    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who is responsible for the cost of “reasonable modifications”?
        • A: Reasonable modifications are changes you make yourself. These changes must be necessary for full enjoyment of the housing. When you leave, you may need to put things back the way they were. To cover the cost of this, the FHA allows a landlord to request an extra deposit: How much depends on what it will cost to put things back. The amount of the deposit must be “reasonable.” The total cannot be more than the cost of restoring the unit. The tenant should be able to pay the extra deposit “over a reasonable period.” Any interest earned on the extra deposit belongs to the tenant. The next tenant may not want the modification changed back. If so, the landlord should return your extra deposit to you when you move. The landlord can then ask the new tenant for an extra deposit. This would pay to put things back the way they were when the new tenant moves. Federal regulations discuss two examples of modifications that might need to be changed back:- Grab bars in the bathroom - The regulations say it is reasonable for a landlord to require the removal of grab bars. Wall reinforcements can be left as they are.- Widening a bathroom doorway - This does not have to be changed back.

      • Q: Who do I call regarding landlord/tenant disputes?
        • A: The city plays no role in landlord/tenant disputes, but there is a program that might be able to help. Call Home Incorporated at (515) 243-1277.

  • Building & Construction
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: When is a building permit required?
        • A:  A Building permit is required when any building or structure is erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished. There are certain "exceptions" when a permit is not required, as in City Code Section 26-231, however, this does not relieve the construction from complying with all applicable laws and ordinances.

      • Q: When is an electrical permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  An electrical permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any electrical system or equipment, except when a single fixture is replaced and no other construction or repairs are needed?

      • Q: When is a mechanical permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  A mechanical permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any mechanical system or equipment, except when the repair work is valued at less than $100.

      • Q: When is a plumbing permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  A plumbing permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any plumbing system, except the direct replacement of a fixture (sink, water closet, etc.) which may  to be replaced without a permit.

      • Q: How can I get a copy of a City Ordinance?
        • A: You can also find a copy of the City Code at any City Library, or online at http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.aspx?productid=13242

          You can also view the City Code at the City Clerk's office on the 1st floor of City Hall, 400 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA. City Hall is just north of the Embassy Suites Hotel on the east side of the Des Moines river.

        • City Code
    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who do I talk to about housing code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

      • Q: Who do I talk to about zoning code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • Q: What is meant by the term “City ordinance”?
        • A: The City department charged with the day-to-day administration and enforcement of an ordinance can answer general questions regarding how the ordinances are applied by the City. If the department is unable to answer your question, it can refer you to the Legal Department with expertise in the particular area involved. While we can't give you legal advice, we will try to help any way we can. Search the City Code.

        • City Code
  • Fire Protection & Safety
    • When; When do I; When can; When . . .?
      • Q: When do I need a tent permit?  I am having a wedding, party, sales event, or etc. and plan on putting up a tent. Do I need a tent permit?
        • A:  You need a tent permit if:1. Your tent has no sides, and is larger than 400 square feet2. Your tent has sides, and is larger than 200 square feet.

          A tent permit application may be obtained from the Des Moines Fire Prevention Bureau, 900 Mulberry Street Des Moines, Iowa 50309 (515) 283-4240 or it can be downloaded from the link below. The fee is $40.00 for each tent requiring a permit.

        • Permit To Erect Tent And/Or Supported Structures
    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • Q: What types of fireworks are allowed in Des Moines?
        • A:  Only sparklers and worms/snakes are allowed. Fireworks displays are permitted by licensed operators only. Applications for the Fireworks Display or Pyrotechnics Special Effects Permit may be obtained from the Des Moines Fire Prevention Bureau, 900 Mulberry Street Des Moines, Iowa 50309, (515) 283-4240 or the following form can be downloaded.

        • Application for Fireworks Display or Pyrotechnics Special Effects Permit
      • Q: What are the burn rules for yard waste?  Can I burn yard waste?
        • A:  No, it is illegal to burn within the city limits of Des Moines, including the annexed areas of Warren County. The Polk County Board of Health, Rules and Regulations, Chapter V, Air Pollution Control states, in part: “… It shall be unlawful for any persons to open burn or to permit open burning of any refuse, rubbish, garbage, landscape waste or other combustible material within the cities of Des Moines…from any source from and after September 21, 1983.” For additional information regarding open burning, call the Fire Prevention Bureau @ (515) 283-4240.

      • Q: What are the rules regarding fire pit usage within the city limits?
        • A:  No, the use of fire pits is prohibited within city limits of Des Moines including the annexed areas of Warren County.

      • Q: What is the difference between a fireplace and a grill, and can they be used to cook food?
        • A:  Des Moines follows the rules set by the Polk County Board, the complete policy can be found at: Refer to Article III Section 5-7:
          A “Fireplace”, for the purposes of Article III Section 5-7, means a structure, with an open recess at the base of a chimney or stack, with a grate for food preparation and provisions for under-fire air, for holding an outdoor fire off the ground.
          A “Grill”, for the purposes of Article III Section 5-7, means a cooking utensil with a grate for food preparation and provisions for under-fire air, for holding an outdoor fire off the ground.
          An outdoor fireplace or grill, as defined above, burning untreated wood or charcoal, may be used solely for the non-commercial preparation of food. Such outdoor fireplaces, grills, and fire pits shall not be used for the burning of refuse, rubbish, or garbage.

      • Q: What are the criteria for activation of the outdoor warning sirens?
        • A: Under the Polk County/Des Moines Metro Area outdoor warning system guidelines, sirens will be sounded for tornadoes or Severe Thunderstorms with winds occurring or forecasted to be 70 mph or greater.
          The sirens may be sounded multiple times during the threat. There will be no "all clear" signal for the sirens.

      • Q: What should I do when I hear the outdoor warning sirens?
        • A: Go inside to the lowest level, most-interior room of the structure and tune to NOAA All-Hazards Radio or the local media for more detailed information on the storm’s location, timing, and intensity.

      • Q: What is a Knox Box and how can I have one installed at my home or business?
        • A: A Knox Box is a secure, storage device that is installed on the outside of your home or business that only the Des Moines Fire Department has a key to open. When an emergency occurs, the Des Moines Fire Department uses the key to open the box and access keys to your home or business. This process reduces valuable time to enter the premise and evaluate/mitigate the emergency. It may also minimize damage to a door or window if the situation dictates gaining immediate access to the inside of the home or business. The Des Moines Fire Department also recommends keeping contact information inside the Knox Box for notification purposes when an emergency occurs.

          1. A residential or business application for a Knox Box can be obtained from the Des Moines Fire Prevention Bureau, 900 Mulberry Street Des Moines, Iowa 50309 (515) 283-4240.
          2. Upon completion, the application and prepayment must be sent to the Des Moines Fire Department (same address as above) for review and approval. The order will not be processed by the Knox Company without the Fire Marshal's signature.
          3. When your equipment arrives, contact the Fire Prevention Bureau (515) 283-4240 to unlock the box and identify the correct location for installation.
          4. After the Knox Box is installed by you or a contractor, call the Fire Prevention Bureau (515) 283-4240 to schedule placement of your keys and contact information in the Knox Box.

    • Why; Why do I; Why can't; Why . . .?
      • Q: Why are fire pits sold in the city if we cannot use them?
        • A:  Stores sell fire pits to people to take outside the city limits for use (camping, etc.) or to people who live in other cities.

    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who do I contact if the siren in my neighborhood is not working?
        • A:  If your siren is not functioning properly you should contact the Polk County Emergency Management Agency at (515) 286-2107. They will need to know the siren location and description of the problem in order to direct the maintenance/repair request to the proper jurisdiction.

      • Q: Who activates the outdoor warning sirens?
        • A: Sirens are activated by the Des Moines Public Safety Dispatch Center.

    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: How do I schedule a fire safety presentation or get information about fire safety?
        • A: You can call the Fire Marshal's office at (515) 283-4240 to schedule a visit by Sparky the Clown or Pluggy.

      • Q: How do I get Sparky or Pluggy to come to my event or school?
        • A: You can call the Fire Marshal's office at (515) 283-4240 to schedule a visit by Sparky the Clown or Pluggy.

      • Q: How do I obtain a copy of a fire report?
        • A: A copy of a report from a fire that occurred within the City of Des Moines can be obtained from the Des Moines Fire Prevention Bureau, 900 Mulberry Street Des Moines, Iowa 50309 (515) 283-4240. A fee of $15.00 (cash, credit card, or check - payable to the "City of Des Moines") must be paid before a report will be issued.

  • Garbage, Yard Waste & Recycling
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: How do I find out which day my garbage, recycling, or yard waste is picked up?
        • A: To find out which day your garbage, recycling, or yard waste is collected or to find out about guidelines for collection, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.

        • Pickup Day by Address
      • Q: How do I find out what I can put in my blue recycling bin?
        • A: Green recycling bins are provided for the collection of:
          Newspapers Magazines Old mail Catalogs Paper of any color (not contaminated by food or waste) Materials like cereal, cracker and tissue boxes Clear glass (throw away lids) Brown paper sacks Tin/aluminum cans (labels on, lids off)#1 and #2 plastics like milk, 2 liters, laundry detergent, bleach and shampoo bottles Flattened cardboard. For additional information about recycling, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.
          Or contact the Metro Waste Authority at (515) 244-0021.

        • Metro Waste
        • What Goes in Collection Carts
      • Q: How do I dispose of yard waste?
      • Q: How do I get my Christmas tree picked up?
        • A: Christmas trees can be placed out for collection and will be picked up beginning the last week of December.
          In order to have your Christmas tree picked up you must first attach a "compost-it" sticker, make sure all tinsel is removed, and it cannot be in a plastic bag.
           
          For additional information or to purchase a sticker, contact the Metro Waste Authority at (515) 244-0021.

        • Metro Waste
    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • What can I do if sewer is backing up in my property?
        • You can report a sewer back up on your property online or by calling the Public Works 24 Hour Customer Service Center at (515) 283-4950.

        • Report a Sewer Problem
    • Where, Where do I; Where can; Where . . .?
      • Q: Where can I purchase extra trash stickers?
  • Health & Human Services
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: When are the public accommodations provisions effective?
        • A: In general, they became effective on January 26, 1992.

      • Q: What does the ADA require in new construction?
        • A: The ADA requires that all new construction of places of public accommodation, as well as of "commercial facilities" such as office buildings, be accessible. Elevators are generally not required in facilities under three stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless the building is a shopping center or mall; the professional office of a health care provider; a terminal, depot, or other public transit station; or an airport passenger terminal.

      • Q: How much does it cost to make all newly constructed places of public accommodation and commercial facilities accessible?
        • A: The cost of incorporating accessibility features in new construction is less than one percent of construction costs. This is a small price in relation to the economic benefits to be derived from full accessibility in the future, such as increased employment and consumer spending and decreased welfare dependency.

      • Q: Would it be necessary to make every feature of a new facility accessible?
        • A: No, only a specified number of elements such as parking spaces and drinking fountains must be made accessible in order for a facility to be "readily accessible." Certain non-occupiable spaces such as elevator pits, elevator penthouses, and piping or equipment catwalks need not be accessible.

      • Q: What are the ADA requirements for altering facilities?
        • A: All alterations that could affect the usability of a facility must be made in an accessible manner to the maximum extent feasible. For example, if during renovations a doorway is being relocated, the new doorway must be wide enough to meet the new construction standard for accessibility. When alterations are made to a primary function area, such as the lobby of a bank or the dining area of a cafeteria, an accessible path of travel to the altered area must also be provided.

      • Q: What kinds of auxiliary aids and services are required by the ADA to ensure effective communication with individuals with hearing or vision impairments?
        • A: Appropriate auxiliary aids and services may include services and devices such as qualified interpreters, assistive listening devices, note takers, and written materials for individuals with hearing impairments; and qualified readers, taped texts, and brailed or large print materials for individuals with vision impairments.

      • Q: When are there limitations on the ADA's auxiliary aids requirements?
        • A: The ADA does not require the provision of any auxiliary aid that would result in an undue burden or in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the goods or services provided by a public accommodation. However, the public accommodation is not relieved from the duty to furnish an alternative auxiliary aid, if available, that would not result in a fundamental alteration or undue burden. Both of these limitations are derived from existing regulations and case law under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and are to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

      • Q: When are restaurants required to have brailed menus?
        • A: Only if waiters or other employees are not made available to read the menu to a blind customer.

      • Q: Will a bookstore be required to maintain a sign language interpreter on its staff in order to communicate with deaf customers?
        • A: No, not if employees communicate by pen and notepad when necessary.

      • Q: What are the limitations, if any on the ADA's barrier removal requirements for existing facilities?
        • A: Barrier removal limitations do exist. Barrier removal need be accomplished only when it is "readily achievable" to do so.

      • Q: What does the term "readily achievable" mean?
        • A: It means "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."

      • Q: What are examples of the types of modifications that would be readily achievable in most cases?
        • A: Examples include the simple ramping of a few steps, the installation of grab bars where only routine reinforcement of the wall is required, the lowering of telephones, and similar modest adjustments.

      • Q: Will businesses need to rearrange furniture and display racks?
        • A: Possibly. For example, restaurants may need to rearrange tables and department stores may need to adjust their layout of racks and shelves in order to permit access to wheelchair users.

      • Q: Will businesses need to install elevators?
        • A: Businesses are not required to retrofit their facilities to install elevators unless such installation is readily achievable, which is unlikely in most cases.

      • Q: When barrier removal is not readily achievable, what kinds of alternative steps are required by the ADA?
        • A: Alternatives may include such measures as in-store assistance for removing articles from inaccessible shelves, home delivery of groceries, or coming to the door to receive or return dry cleaning.

      • Q: What alternative steps must be taken without regard to cost?
        • A: None, only readily achievable alternative steps must be undertaken.

      • Q: How is "readily achievable" determined in a multisite business?
        • A: In determining whether an action to make a public accommodation accessible would be "readily achievable," the overall size of the parent corporation or entity is only one factor to be considered. The ADA also permits consideration of the financial resources of the particular facility or facilities involved and the administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities to the parent entity.

      • Q: Who has responsibility for ADA compliance in leased places of public accommodation, the landlord or the tenant?
        • A: The ADA places the legal obligation to remove barriers or provide auxiliary aids and services on both the landlord and the tenant. The landlord and the tenant may decide by lease that will actually make the changes and provide the aids and services, but both remain legally responsible.

      • Q: When is a business be entitled to any tax benefit to help pay for the cost of compliance?
        • A: As amended in 1990, the Internal Revenue Code allows a deduction of up to $15,000 per year for expenses associated with the removal of qualified architectural and transportation barriers. The 1990 amendment also permits eligible small businesses to receive a tax credit for certain costs of compliance with the ADA. An eligible small business is one whose gross receipts do not exceed $1,000,000 or whose workforce does not consist of more than 30 full- time workers. Qualifying businesses may claim a credit of up to 50 percent of eligible access expenditures that exceed $250 but do not exceed $10,250. Examples of eligible access expenditures include the necessary and reasonable costs of removing architectural, physical, communications, and transportation barriers; providing readers, interpreters, and other auxiliary aids; and acquiring or modifying equipment or devices.

      • Q: When does the ADA cover private apartments and private homes?
        • A: The ADA does not cover strictly residential private apartments and homes. If, however, a place of public accommodation, such as a doctor's office or day care center, is located in a private residence, those portions of the residence used for that purpose are subject to the ADA's requirements.

      • Q: Who pays to make public and common areas accessible to those with disabilities?
        •  A: Multi-family housing that was first occupied after March 13, 1991, should have been constructed with accessible units, public and common areas. If not, the units and common use areas may have to be changed at no charge to the tenant. For older units, the tenant may have to pay for the changes. Changes to common use areas do not have to be changed back.

      • Q: How can a tenant get a reasonable accommodation – a change in a rule, service, policy or procedure so that disabled tenants may have full use of the property?
        • A: A tenant must ask for a reasonable accommodation. The landlord is not responsible for suggesting an accommodation. A tenant needs to show that the change is needed so that she/he has an equal opportunity to use the dwelling. A tenant may need to have medical or doctor statements to support the request for accommodation.

      • Q: What does the law say about a landlord setting a minimum income level to qualify for a property?
        • A: A landlord may set a minimum income level to quality for a property.  If the landlord sets a minimum standard it should be used for all applicants, not just one group or another.

      • Q: When would it be lawful for a real estate agent to show only certain properties or neighborhoods to potential renters or buyers because of race?
        • A: Never. This action is called “steering”. It is unlawful discrimination for an agent to restrict a client’s housing search to a neighborhood because of race or because of any other protected characteristic.

      • Q: When is it acceptable for a loan officer to offer a lower interest rate on home mortgages to white applicants but not others?
        • A: Financial institutions may evaluate a person’s financial ability to pay back a home loan, but all decisions affecting the loan – including the interest rate, points, and other fees should not be based on race or any other protected characteristic.

      • Q: When can a landlord ask about your disability?
        • A: Never unless you are: - Applying for housing set aside for people with disabilities - Asking for a “reasonable accommodation.” Then a landlord may ask you to show how your disability creates a need for that change.

      • Q: What can a landlord charge you an extra deposit?
        • A:  A landlord can’t charge people with disabilities a higher general deposit. It is discrimination to charge tenants with disabilities more. Even if a landlord worries that a wheelchair may bump into walls or wear out carpet, he cannot make the deposit higher. However, a landlord may be able to charge an extra deposit if a tenant asks for a reasonable modification.

      • Q: How can a tenant get a reasonable accommodation?
        • A: A tenant must ASK for a reasonable accommodation. The landlord is not responsible for suggesting an accommodation. The tenant must show that the change is needed so that she has an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling. In some cases, a tenant may need to have a doctor or other expert support her request.

      • Q: When does a tenant with a disability have a right to have a pet?
        • A: You have the right to keep a service animal, if it is required for health reasons, even in a “no pet” community. Animals trained to assist or support those who are blind, deaf, suffer depression, or mobility-impairment can be deemed medically necessary.

    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who is responsible for the cost of “reasonable modifications”?
        • A: Reasonable modifications are changes you make yourself. These changes must be necessary for full enjoyment of the housing. When you leave, you may need to put things back the way they were. To cover the cost of this, the FHA allows a landlord to request an extra deposit: How much depends on what it will cost to put things back. The amount of the deposit must be “reasonable.” The total cannot be more than the cost of restoring the unit. The tenant should be able to pay the extra deposit “over a reasonable period.” Any interest earned on the extra deposit belongs to the tenant. The next tenant may not want the modification changed back. If so, the landlord should return your extra deposit to you when you move. The landlord can then ask the new tenant for an extra deposit. This would pay to put things back the way they were when the new tenant moves. Federal regulations discuss two examples of modifications that might need to be changed back:- Grab bars in the bathroom - The regulations say it is reasonable for a landlord to require the removal of grab bars. Wall reinforcements can be left as they are.- Widening a bathroom doorway - This does not have to be changed back.

  • Housing
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: When is a building permit required?
        • A:  A Building permit is required when any building or structure is erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished. There are certain "exceptions" when a permit is not required, as in City Code Section 26-231, however, this does not relieve the construction from complying with all applicable laws and ordinances.

      • Q: When is an electrical permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  An electrical permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any electrical system or equipment, except when a single fixture is replaced and no other construction or repairs are needed?

      • Q: When is a mechanical permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  A mechanical permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any mechanical system or equipment, except when the repair work is valued at less than $100.

      • Q: When is a plumbing permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  A plumbing permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any plumbing system, except the direct replacement of a fixture (sink, water closet, etc.) which may  to be replaced without a permit.

      • Q: When can a landlord limit the number of children in an apartment?
        • A: Occupancy standards may establish the number of persons in a unit, but not the age of the occupants. Check with any local occupancy standards that pertain to the number of occupants for rental property. If there are no local ordinances, then the usual guideline is two persons per average-sized bedroom.

      • Q: Why can’t a landlord or newspaper advertise “No Children” or “Prefer Christian”?
        • A: No one may advertise or indicate a preference based on any of the protected characteristics.

      • Q: Who is responsible for the cost of a reasonable modification of the property, making it accessible to tenants with disabilities?
        • A: Modifications or changes to the property may be made by the tenant at the tenant’s cost. Many property owners opt to make the changes themselves because the changes may enhance the property for future occupants. An example would be grab bar installation in the washroom.
           
          : If the landlord wants the property to be returned to its prior condition (for example where a ramp is constructed into the dwelling) the law requires that the property be put back to the way it was prior to the modification. To cover the cost of this, the landlord may require an extra deposit to cover the reasonable costs of restoring the property. The landlord may not charge a higher general deposit to persons with disabilities, but an extra deposit specifically set aside to return the property to its original state may be charged.

      • Q: Who pays to make public and common areas accessible to those with disabilities?
        •  A: Multi-family housing that was first occupied after March 13, 1991, should have been constructed with accessible units, public and common areas. If not, the units and common use areas may have to be changed at no charge to the tenant. For older units, the tenant may have to pay for the changes. Changes to common use areas do not have to be changed back.

      • Q: How can a tenant get a reasonable accommodation – a change in a rule, service, policy or procedure so that disabled tenants may have full use of the property?
        • A: A tenant must ask for a reasonable accommodation. The landlord is not responsible for suggesting an accommodation. A tenant needs to show that the change is needed so that she/he has an equal opportunity to use the dwelling. A tenant may need to have medical or doctor statements to support the request for accommodation.

      • Q: What does the law say about a landlord setting a minimum income level to qualify for a property?
        • A: A landlord may set a minimum income level to quality for a property.  If the landlord sets a minimum standard it should be used for all applicants, not just one group or another.

      • Q: When would it be lawful for a real estate agent to show only certain properties or neighborhoods to potential renters or buyers because of race?
        • A: Never. This action is called “steering”. It is unlawful discrimination for an agent to restrict a client’s housing search to a neighborhood because of race or because of any other protected characteristic.

      • Q: When is it acceptable for a loan officer to offer a lower interest rate on home mortgages to white applicants but not others?
        • A: Financial institutions may evaluate a person’s financial ability to pay back a home loan, but all decisions affecting the loan – including the interest rate, points, and other fees should not be based on race or any other protected characteristic.

      • Q: When can a landlord ask about your disability?
        • A: Never unless you are: - Applying for housing set aside for people with disabilities - Asking for a “reasonable accommodation.” Then a landlord may ask you to show how your disability creates a need for that change.

      • Q: What can a landlord charge you an extra deposit?
        • A:  A landlord can’t charge people with disabilities a higher general deposit. It is discrimination to charge tenants with disabilities more. Even if a landlord worries that a wheelchair may bump into walls or wear out carpet, he cannot make the deposit higher. However, a landlord may be able to charge an extra deposit if a tenant asks for a reasonable modification.

      • Q: How can a tenant get a reasonable accommodation?
        • A: A tenant must ASK for a reasonable accommodation. The landlord is not responsible for suggesting an accommodation. The tenant must show that the change is needed so that she has an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling. In some cases, a tenant may need to have a doctor or other expert support her request.

      • Q: When does a tenant with a disability have a right to have a pet?
        • A: You have the right to keep a service animal, if it is required for health reasons, even in a “no pet” community. Animals trained to assist or support those who are blind, deaf, suffer depression, or mobility-impairment can be deemed medically necessary.

      • Q: How can I get a copy of a City Ordinance?
        • A: You can also find a copy of the City Code at any City Library, or online at http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.aspx?productid=13242

          You can also view the City Code at the City Clerk's office on the 1st floor of City Hall, 400 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA. City Hall is just north of the Embassy Suites Hotel on the east side of the Des Moines river.

        • City Code
    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who is responsible for the cost of “reasonable modifications”?
        • A: Reasonable modifications are changes you make yourself. These changes must be necessary for full enjoyment of the housing. When you leave, you may need to put things back the way they were. To cover the cost of this, the FHA allows a landlord to request an extra deposit: How much depends on what it will cost to put things back. The amount of the deposit must be “reasonable.” The total cannot be more than the cost of restoring the unit. The tenant should be able to pay the extra deposit “over a reasonable period.” Any interest earned on the extra deposit belongs to the tenant. The next tenant may not want the modification changed back. If so, the landlord should return your extra deposit to you when you move. The landlord can then ask the new tenant for an extra deposit. This would pay to put things back the way they were when the new tenant moves. Federal regulations discuss two examples of modifications that might need to be changed back:- Grab bars in the bathroom - The regulations say it is reasonable for a landlord to require the removal of grab bars. Wall reinforcements can be left as they are.- Widening a bathroom doorway - This does not have to be changed back.

      • Q: Who do I talk to about housing code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

      • Q: Who do I talk to about zoning code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

      • Q: Who do I call regarding landlord/tenant disputes?
        • A: The city plays no role in landlord/tenant disputes, but there is a program that might be able to help. Call Home Incorporated at (515) 243-1277.

    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • Q: What is meant by the term “City ordinance”?
        • A: The City department charged with the day-to-day administration and enforcement of an ordinance can answer general questions regarding how the ordinances are applied by the City. If the department is unable to answer your question, it can refer you to the Legal Department with expertise in the particular area involved. While we can't give you legal advice, we will try to help any way we can. Search the City Code.

        • City Code
  • Inspections
    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who do I talk to about housing code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

  • Law Enforcement
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: What happens if I don’t license my pet?
        • A: Any owner of any unlicensed pet is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be punished by a fine up to $500 or by imprisonment up to 30 days.

      • Q: What is the limit on the numbers of dogs/cats I may have living at my residence?
        • A: City Ordinance allows a total of six cats and dogs, not more than three* of which may be dogs, per household.

      • Q: If I have four dogs, am I in violation of the ordinance?
        • A: *Not necessarily. The ordinance allows the City Clerk to grant a waiver of the three-dog limit for one additional dog under the following conditions:1. The dog's full grown weight is not more than 20 pounds as certified in writing by a veterinarian (certification must be within thirty days prior to purchasing license), 2. The owner provides a current rabies vaccination certificate for the dog, 3. The owner provides proof the dog has been spayed or neutered, and 4. No more than two cats reside on the property subject to the waiver. The waiver certificate shall be maintained by the owner, and must be available upon request.

      • Q: What are the requirements for pet waste?
        • A: No owner or possessor, or person in charge of a dog, cat, horse or other animal shall fail to clean up or remove immediately any excrement or droppings deposited by such dog, cat, horse or other animal on any public or private property not owned or in control of that owner, possessor or person in charge of such dog, cat, horse or other animal. In addition, the owner of the pet is also required to remove any excrement or droppings from his or her property.

      • Q: Does the City of Des Moines have a leash law?
        • A: Yes, if the dog is on the owner's property it must be restrained by an adequate protective fence or by leash, cord, chain or other similar restraint or the pet must be at all times within the actual physical presence of and immediately obedient to the commands of the owner or person given charge of the dog and at no time be more than six feet from such person. If the dog is off the owner's premises it must be on a leash, cord, or chain or other similar restraint not more than six feet in length and under the control of a person competent to restrain and control the dog. Cats are not required to be leashed; however, if a cat is not confined within a premise, it is required to be spayed or neutered, and properly licensed.

      • Q: Is there a noise ordinance regarding barking dogs?
        • A: Yes. No person shall own, possess or harbor any animal or bird which frequently or for continued duration emits sounds native to the species which are a noise disturbance across a residential real property boundary or within a noise sensitive area.

      • Q: How can I talk to a prosecutor about a crime I’ve been charged with?
        • A: The City prosecutes only municipal misdemeanors, including violations of the City Traffic Code committed inside the Des Moines City limits. If your court documents reference a Des Moines City ordinance, then you may call the City's Prosecutor at (515) 283-4532. If your court documents do not reference a Des Moines City ordinance, then you probably need to call the Polk County Attorney's Office at (515) 286-3737, or the prosecutor for the city where you received the ticket.

      • Q: How much will I get paid to appear as a witness in traffic court?
        • A: You will receive a witness fee of $5.00 plus 24 cents a mile. Any further questions involving witness fee payments are usually directed to the clerk in the Traffic Court Office at (515) 286-3920.

      • Q: How do I become a Des Moines Police Officer?
        • A: For information on becoming a Des Moines Police Officer contact the City of Des Moines Human Resources Office at (515) 283-4213 or visit the link below.

      • Q: How do I sign up for the Citizen Police Academy?
        • A: To sign up or get information about the Citizen Police Academy, contact the Regional Training Facility at (515) 256-2560.

      • Q: How do I report child abuse or sexual abuse?
        • A: To report abuse contact our specially trained investigators at (515) 283-4864.
           
          Normal business hours for the Sexual Abuse / Child Trauma Section are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. After hours or on weekends, call (515) 283-4811.
           
          If this is an emergency situation, call 911.

      • Q: How do I report a suspected drug house?
        • A: If you observe drug activity occurring, please call the Police Dept. at 911 or (515) 283-4811 at any time of the day or night.

          If the drug activity is not in progress, please call the Vice and Narcotics Unit at (515) 283-4830, Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

          It's helpful if you're able to provide the following information:

          1. The address or a specific location of the activity.

          2. A description of the residence.
           
          3. Names, if known, or description of the people involved in the activity.

          4. Time of day the activity is occurring.

          5. Description and/or license plate numbers of vehicles that may be involved.

      • Q: How do I file a complaint about discrimination?
        • A: If you wish to explore the possibility of filing a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, please call (800) 457-4416 ext. 14437 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you do not wish to file a complaint but would like to report an incident of discrimination you can do so on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission website.

        • Civil Rights Commission
      • Q: How do I find out about Community Service assignments?
    • Where, Where do I; Where can; Where . . .?
      • Q: Where do I go to appear in court on a traffic ticket charge or violation? 
        • A: The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

      • Q: Where do I go to pay a traffic ticket? 
        • A: The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

      • Q: Where do I go to appear on criminal charges? 
        • A: The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • Q: What must I do if I receive a subpoena to appear as a witness in traffic court?
        • A: Please bring a copy of the subpoena with you to the Traffic Court Office. The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who can I talk to regarding police misconduct?
        • A: Office of Professional Standards at (515) 283-4816.

  • Legal, Legislative, & Regulatory
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: What happens if I don’t license my pet?
        • A: Any owner of any unlicensed pet is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be punished by a fine up to $500 or by imprisonment up to 30 days.

      • Q: What is the limit on the numbers of dogs/cats I may have living at my residence?
        • A: City Ordinance allows a total of six cats and dogs, not more than three* of which may be dogs, per household.

      • Q: Is there a noise ordinance regarding barking dogs?
        • A: Yes. No person shall own, possess or harbor any animal or bird which frequently or for continued duration emits sounds native to the species which are a noise disturbance across a residential real property boundary or within a noise sensitive area.

      • Q: How do I file a claim?
        • A:  If you feel the City, or a City employee acting within the course and scope of his or her employment, has damaged your property or injured you, we encourage you to file a claim.
          Attach all relevant documents you have, such as bids, receipts, invoices, pictures and other supporting documents to the appropriate claim form.  See specific form claim sections for additional information that might be required for a specific claim type.
          For property damage claims relating to automobiles, please attach two separate estimates for the damages being claimed. For other property damage, please submit one estimate.  At times we may require an appraisal or other type of inspection of the property.
          The sooner you file a claim the more likely it is that all of the evidence will be easily gathered. 
           
          You can also get a claim form by calling the City Legal Department Litigation Division at (515) 283-4564. You may also call the City's Claims Adjuster at (515) 283-4565.

        • Automobile Claim for Damages
        • Miscellaneous Claims
        • Sewer Claim for Damages
      • Q: What can the Commission do if I think I have been discriminated against?
        • A:  The Commission acts as a neutral fact finder. Our role under the law is to collect facts about your situation and then decide whether discrimination has occurred. We can help you to prepare and file a complaint against anyone who you believe illegally discriminated against you.

      • Q:  What do I need to file a complaint?
        • A: Try to keep a record of the incident. Document the time, date, location, what happened, and comments that were made. Also try to collect information and documentation, such as witness's names and phone numbers to support your allegations.

      • Q: What happens after I file a complaint?
        • A: The commission will try to negotiate a settlement of your complaint. If it cannot be settled, the Commission will investigate your complaint and if it finds that you were illegally discriminated against it will assist in obtaining a remedy for you.

      • Q: When is it too late to file my complaint?
        • A: You must file your complaint with the Commission no later than 300 days after the illegal discrimination happened.

      • Q: How much will it cost me to file a complaint?
        • A: The commission will investigate your complaint at NO cost to you.

      • Q: When do I need an attorney to file a complaint?
        • A: Never. Our services are an alternative to the court system, and you do not need a lawyer to file a complaint or to participate in the hearing process. Our investigator will assist you throughout all processes.

      • Q: What legal action can an employer or landlord take against me for filing a complaint?
        • A: None.  It is against the law for a respondent to retaliate against you because you filed a charge of discrimination or because you helped in an investigation. You may file a charge of retaliation if you believe the respondent has taken such action against you.

      • Q: What other actions should I remember to take after I file a complaint?
        • A: If you move or change your phone number, you must let the Commission know. If your phone is disconnected, or if you do not have a phone, you must leave an address or number where you can be reached. Your complaint could be dismissed if the Commission is unable to get in touch with you.

      • Q: How many repair estimates do I submit?
        • A: For property damage claims relating to automobiles, please attach two separate estimates for the damages being claimed. For other property damage, please submit one estimate.  At times  we may require an appraisal or other type of inspection of the property.

      • Q: How long do I have to wait to get repairs done on a claim filed but not yet processed?
        • A: We prefer the City Adjuster inspect your damage first, but in cases of emergency, you can go ahead and have the repairs completed. However, you should take photographs of the damage before repairs are made in order to substantiate your claim. It is always easier for our Claims Adjuster to analyze the damage if he can see the damage before it is repaired. Please  remember that we will consider pre-loss condition in evaluating damage.

      • Q: How long do I have to file a claim?
        • A: You can file a claim whenever you want, but you should be aware that if your claim is denied and you wish to file a lawsuit (see below) that a statute of limitations will come into play.  You should consult an attorney as to the statute of limitations which might be applicable to your cause of action.  We can't give you that kind of legal advice.  The sooner you file a claim the more likely it is that all of the evidence will be easily gathered. 

      • Q: How can I get a copy of a City Ordinance?
        • A: You can also find a copy of the City Code at any City Library, or online at http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.aspx?productid=13242

          You can also view the City Code at the City Clerk's office on the 1st floor of City Hall, 400 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA. City Hall is just north of the Embassy Suites Hotel on the east side of the Des Moines river.

        • City Code
      • Q: How can I talk to a prosecutor about a crime I’ve been charged with?
        • A: The City prosecutes only municipal misdemeanors, including violations of the City Traffic Code committed inside the Des Moines City limits. If your court documents reference a Des Moines City ordinance, then you may call the City's Prosecutor at (515) 283-4532. If your court documents do not reference a Des Moines City ordinance, then you probably need to call the Polk County Attorney's Office at (515) 286-3737, or the prosecutor for the city where you received the ticket.

      • Q: How much will I get paid to appear as a witness in traffic court?
        • A: You will receive a witness fee of $5.00 plus 24 cents a mile. Any further questions involving witness fee payments are usually directed to the clerk in the Traffic Court Office at (515) 286-3920.

      • Q: How do I get a patent?
        • A: Start by visiting, calling, or viewing the website of the Patent & Trademark Office at the State Library of Iowa, 1112 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50319, phone (515) 282-4102, . Staff are there to explain the patent process, help in doing a patent search, answer questions and provide free access to patent documents.

        • Patent
      • Q: How do I get a liquor license?
        • A: All applications for Beer/Liquor Licensed establishments must be submitted to the City Clerk's Office at least thirty days prior to the proposed effective date. In addition, the applicant is required to submit Iowa Articles of Incorporation (if applying as a corporation), a lease or bill of sale for the premise, a detailed sketch reflecting exits, restrooms, seating, etc., Dram insurance, and the required fee in the form of certified funds. Upon receipt of a completed application, an inspection of the premise is requested from the Building, Electrical, Zoning and Fire Departments. A vice report is also requested from the Police Department (The Police Department will require some additional information on a new applicant).
           
          When the premise meets all requirements of the Building, Electrical, Zoning, Fire and Police Department, the application will be submitted to City Council for approval. The approved application is then submitted to State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division for issuance. The license is a yearly license expiring one year from date of issuance.
          For more information about beer/liquor licensing, contact the City Clerk's office at (515) 283-4233.

        • Liquor License Renewal
        • New Liquor License Application Process
    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • Q: What happens after I file a claim?
        • A:  A short time after your claim is received the City's Claims Adjuster will be in touch with you. It may take four to six weeks for your claim to be fully resolved. This time allows us to do a full investigation and talk with all of the City departments and employees who may have knowledge or information concerning your claim. During the course of our investigation, the Claims Adjuster may visit you personally or call you for further questions.  Once the claims investigation has been completed, we will contact you regarding the outcome of our investigation.

      • Q: What should I attach to the claim form?
        • A: Attach all relevant documents you have, such as bids, receipts, invoices, pictures and other supporting documents for your claim.

      • Q: What do I do if my claim is denied?
        • A: If you do not agree with the City's resolution of your claim, you may file a lawsuit in a court of appropriate jurisdiction.

      • Q: What is the difference between the City Attorney and the County Attorney? 
        • A: The City Attorney and the City Attorney's office represent the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. The County Attorney and County Attorney's office represent the County and County employees. In addition, the Criminal Bureau of the County Attorney's office prosecutes all State crime violations in Polk County.

      • Q: What is the difference between the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney?
        • A: The Attorney General's office represents the State of Iowa and its employees and the many State agencies. The United States Attorney represents the United States and its employees and prosecutes criminal cases in the United States District Court.

      • Q: What is meant by the term “City ordinance”?
        • A: The City department charged with the day-to-day administration and enforcement of an ordinance can answer general questions regarding how the ordinances are applied by the City. If the department is unable to answer your question, it can refer you to the Legal Department with expertise in the particular area involved. While we can't give you legal advice, we will try to help any way we can. Search the City Code.

        • City Code
      • Q: What must I do if I receive a subpoena to appear as a witness in traffic court?
        • A: Please bring a copy of the subpoena with you to the Traffic Court Office. The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who can help me with legal advice regarding a problem with my landlord?
        • A: We're sorry, but no, in this instance we can't help you. The City Attorney's office represents the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. We can't represent private parties or give them legal advice. The Iowa State Bar Association oversees a lawyer referral service. Call (515) 280-7429, if you would like to use the lawyer referral service. You might also try the Legal id Society of Polk County at (515) 243-1193, or the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa at (515) 243-2151.

      • Q: Who can help me with legal advice regarding a problem with my neighbor?
        • A: We're sorry, but no, in this instance we can't help you. The City Attorney's office represents the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. We can't represent private parties or give them legal advice. The Iowa State Bar Association oversees a lawyer referral service. Call (515) 280-7429, if you would like to use the lawyer referral service. You might also try the Legal id Society of Polk County at (515) 243-1193, or the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa at (515) 243-2151.

      • Q: Who can help me with legal advice regarding a problem with my employer?
        • A: We're sorry, but no, in this instance we can't help you. The City Attorney's office represents the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. We can't represent private parties or give them legal advice. The Iowa State Bar Association oversees a lawyer referral service. Call (515) 280-7429, if you would like to use the lawyer referral service. You might also try the Legal id Society of Polk County at (515) 243-1193, or the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa at (515) 243-2151.

      • Q: Who can help me with legal advice regarding a problem with my spouse?
        • A: We're sorry, but no, in this instance we can't help you. The City Attorney's office represents the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. We can't represent private parties or give them legal advice. The Iowa State Bar Association oversees a lawyer referral service. Call (515) 280-7429, if you would like to use the lawyer referral service. You might also try the Legal id Society of Polk County at (515) 243-1193, or the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa at (515) 243-2151.

      • Q: Who can help me with legal advice regarding a problem with my ex-spouse?
        • A: We're sorry, but no, in this instance we can't help you. The City Attorney's office represents the City and City employees in matters related to their City employment. We can't represent private parties or give them legal advice. The Iowa State Bar Association oversees a lawyer referral service. Call (515) 280-7429, if you would like to use the lawyer referral service. You might also try the Legal id Society of Polk County at (515) 243-1193, or the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa at (515) 243-2151.

      • Q: Who do I talk to about housing code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

      • Q: Who do I talk to about zoning code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

      • Q: Who do I call regarding landlord/tenant disputes?
        • A: The city plays no role in landlord/tenant disputes, but there is a program that might be able to help. Call Home Incorporated at (515) 243-1277.

      • Q: Who can I talk to regarding police misconduct?
        • A: Office of Professional Standards at (515) 283-4816.

    • Where, Where do I; Where can; Where . . .?
      • Q: Where do I go to appear in court on a traffic ticket charge or violation? 
        • A: The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

      • Q: Where do I go to pay a traffic ticket? 
        • A: The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

      • Q: Where do I go to appear on criminal charges? 
        • A: The Polk County Clerk of Court is the custodian of criminal and traffic records. For information, please call (515) 286-3765 for criminal or (515) 286-3920 for traffic. The Clerk of Court is located in the Polk County Courthouse at the west end of Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

  • Maps & GIS
    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • Q: What is GIS?
        • GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. The City of Des Moines utilizes GIS to produce the most current and complete maps available for the Des Moines area. GIS technology enables City staff to view and analyze dynamic maps to enhance their daily operations, improve decision-making, and effectively respond to customer requests and emergency situations.

        • Learn more about the City's use of GIS.
      • Q: What is the Des Moines Area Regional GIS
        • The City of Des Moines, Polk County, and several other Des Moines area municipalities partner to maintain the Des Moines Area Regional GIS. The Regional GIS is a repository of mapping equipment, geographic data, and digital maps hosted by the City of Des Moines and maintained collaboratively by the Regional GIS partners to support public safety response and emergency management throughout the Des Moines area. Learn more about the Regional GIS or visit the Regional GIS interactive map.

        • Learn more about the Des Moines Area Regional GIS
        • Go to the Des Moines Regional GIS interactive map
    • Where, Where do I; Where can; Where . . .?
      • Q: Where do I find maps of Des Moines?
        • To find interactive maps, maps for downloading and printing, and links to other mapping resources visit our Map Center.

        • Go to the Map Center
      • Q: Where do I find a map of my house or business?
        • To view a map and lookup information about your property, visit Show Me My House. You can find information about City services, zoning, and City Council and neighborhood representation for your property.

        • Go to Show Me My House
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: How Do I request maps or GIS data?
        • Visit our Map Center to find interactive maps, maps for downloading and printing, and links to other mapping resources. We also offer GIS data for download through our FTP site. We do not print paper maps in bulk for distribution, and we charge for the reproduction of paper maps based on time, materials, and shipping costs. While we do not endorse particular map makers or retailers, you may find inexpensive Des Moines street maps at local businesses such as gas stations and bookstores or through online retailers. If the maps or data you need are not available through any of these sources, please email us with your request. We will fulfill your request if possible and inform you of any fees that may apply.

        • Go to the Map Center
        • Go to the FTP site
        • Email the GIS division
  • Neighborhood Management
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: When is a building permit required?
        • A:  A Building permit is required when any building or structure is erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished. There are certain "exceptions" when a permit is not required, as in City Code Section 26-231, however, this does not relieve the construction from complying with all applicable laws and ordinances.

      • Q: When is an electrical permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  An electrical permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any electrical system or equipment, except when a single fixture is replaced and no other construction or repairs are needed?

      • Q: When is a mechanical permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  A mechanical permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any mechanical system or equipment, except when the repair work is valued at less than $100.

      • Q: When is a plumbing permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  A plumbing permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any plumbing system, except the direct replacement of a fixture (sink, water closet, etc.) which may  to be replaced without a permit.

    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who is responsible for maintenance and snow removal on the sidewalk in front of a home or business?
        • A: Responsibility falls on the abutting property owner as stated in the Municipal Code, 102-42, "Maintenance of Sidewalks", and "Removal of Snow and Ice From Sidewalks", sections 102-12 through 102-136. Search the City Code.

        • City Code
      • Q: Who do I call about diseased, dying, or dangerous trees in the City’s Right-of-Way?
        • A: Call the City's Forestry Department at (515) 283-4194.

      • Q: Who do I call regarding landlord/tenant disputes?
        • A: The city plays no role in landlord/tenant disputes, but there is a program that might be able to help. Call Home Incorporated at (515) 243-1277.

  • New Resident Information
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: When is a building permit required?
        • A:  A Building permit is required when any building or structure is erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished. There are certain "exceptions" when a permit is not required, as in City Code Section 26-231, however, this does not relieve the construction from complying with all applicable laws and ordinances.

      • Q: When is an electrical permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  An electrical permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any electrical system or equipment, except when a single fixture is replaced and no other construction or repairs are needed?

      • Q: When is a plumbing permit and licensed contractor required?
        • A:  A plumbing permit is required for the construction, repair, installation or modification of any plumbing system, except the direct replacement of a fixture (sink, water closet, etc.) which may  to be replaced without a permit.

  • Park Reservation
    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • Q: What is an enclosed shelter?
        • A: A one-room building with tables, chairs, or picnic tables inside; Des Moines Parks and Recreation has 8 of these shelters available. All except for the ML King enclosed shelter can be reserved using the online reservation system. Please call (515) 237-1386 for information on reserving the ML King enclosed shelter.

      • Q: What does it cost to rent a shelter?
        • A: Open-air shelters rent for $30 for the entire day. Enclosed shelters at Birdland, Grandview, Greenwood, MacRae, Pioneer and Union Parks may be rented for two sessions daily: 10:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. and 4:00- 9:00 p.m. If times are available, they can be rented for both sessions consecutively and therefore from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. at twice the rental fee. The ML King enclosed shelter can be rented from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Mondays through Thursdays, until 11:00 pm on Fridays, and on weekends from 8:00 am to 11:000 pm. Following are rates for Des Moines Parks’ 8 enclosed shelters. Please remember that you must call (515) 237-1386 to reserve the ML King Shelter. The rest may be reserved online.
          Birdland and Grandview Enclosed Shelters $60 per Session.
          Greenwood, MacRae, Pioneer, and Union Enclosed Shelters $40 per Session.
          ML King Enclosed Shelter:
          $50 for 2 hours
          $70 for 3 hours – for each hour after 3 hours it is $15 per hour, i.e., $85 for 4 hours, $100 for 5 hours. . .

      • Q: What is an open-air shelter?
        • A: A shelter with a roof only; picnic tables are under the roof of the structure; Des Moines Parks and Recreation has 24 of these rental shelters available.

      • Q: What hours are the parks open?
        • A: 6:00 a.m. to one-half hour after sunset*
          * There are a few exceptions to these hours for some specific parks and special-use facilities.

      • Q: What shelters have kitchens areas?
        • A: Birdland, Grandview and Union West shelters each have a countertop area with a sink. The ML King shelter has a kitchen area with access to a refrigerator, warming hutch, counter and sink area. No stove is available. Remember that you must call (515) 237-1386 to reserve the ML King Shelter.

      • Q: What shelter has stove or refrigerator available?
        • A: The ML King shelter is the only one that has a kitchen area with access to a refrigerator, warming hutch, counter and sink area. No stove is available at any of the shelters. Remember that you must call (515) 237-1386 to reserve the ML King Shelter.

      • Q: What Shelters have electrical outlets available?
        • A: All of the enclosed shelters have electrical outlets, and open-air shelters in the following parks have electrical outlets: Ashby, Columbus, Drake, Evelyn K. Davis, Ewing North, Grandview, McHenry, Pete Crivaro, Pioneer West, and Tower.

      • Q: What are the policies regarding shelter clean-up?
        • A: Yes, the following conditions pertain to facility clean-up:
          Failure to comply with the clean-up policies will result in a $25 per hour charge (minimum charge $25). Cleaning supplies are not provided.
          Picnic tables must be wiped clean and all debris removed (including tacks, staples and tape). Garbage cans are lined for your convenience.
          Floors must be swept and debris placed in dumpsters or garbage cans located outside the shelter; spills must be mopped up.
          All garbage within a 25-ft. radius of the shelter must be placed in dumpsters or garbage cans.
          Enclosed shelter restrooms must have toilets flushed and all debris off the floor.

      • Q: What are the specific Park and Recreation Department rules and regulations pertaining to rentals?
        • A: Yes, there are several you need to know about and adhere to, including the following:
          No person may use, possess, or consume beer, wine, or alcoholic liquors in any public park. . . except in premises covered by a liquor control license and in the following designated park shelters after approval by the Park and Recreation Board by permit: Greenwood Park, MacRae Park, Birdland Park, Gray’s Lake Overlook Terrace.
          No person shall in any manner deface, injure or remove any tree, shrub or plant; no person shall attempt to remove, injure or kill any wild or captive animal.
          No person shall kindle, build, maintain or in any way light a fire in any city park except in barbeque grills in places designated as picnic areas.
          No person shall use firearms, explosives, weapons, or fireworks of any character in any public park.
          No person shall use any loud, violent, obscene or profane language while in any public park.
          No dog shall be allowed to run at large in any public park.
          Bathing, swimming and wading in bodies of water other than swimming and wading pools in the parks is permitted only within marked areas adjacent to authorized bathing beaches, and then only during the swimming season (Memorial Day to Labor Day).

        • View City Park Map
        • Rules & Policies
  • Permits, Licenses and Certifications
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: Why should I license my pet?
        • A: Obtaining the annual tag is required by City Ordinance, and enables the City to contact you immediately should your pet be found.

      • Q: What is the cost of a pet license?
        • A: A spayed or neutered pet may be licensed for a fee of $15.00; a non-spayed or non-neutered pet is $35.00. A senior citizen may license one cat for $5.00 and one dog for $5.00 with any additional pets at regular rates. A service dog may be licensed at no charge when proof is provided. Any application received after March 31st will be assessed a $50 late fee, with the following exceptions:
          • If you obtain a new pet under the age of six months, you are not required to purchase a license until the animal is six months old.
          • If you are a new resident of Des Moines, you are required to purchase a license immediately

        • Animal License Application
      • Q: What is the license fee used for?
        • A: Fees collected for animal licenses are deposited into the City’s general fund and are used for enforcement of animal ordinances and to fund expenses for the Animal Shelter.

      • Q: What if my pet has a license from another City?
        • A: You may bring the current tag issued from another City, along with a current rabies certificate, and we will exchange your existing tag, at no charge, for a City of Des Moines pet license.

      • Q: What information do I need to obtain a pet license?
        • A: You will need to submit a current rabies certificate and proof of spay or neuter, if applicable, along with the application and required fee.

      • Q: What is required for proof of a service dog?
        • A: We accept a certificate or letter of completion from any recognized training facility stating the animal has been trained to assist a person with a disability. Please contact the City Clerk's Office at 283-4209, option #3.

      • Q: Where can I purchase a City of Des Moines pet license?
        • A: You may purchase your license in the City Clerk’s Office, City Hall, 400 Robert D Ray Drive or print the application form which is available on the City of Des Moines website and mail it with the appropriate information and fee to City Clerk’s Office, PO Box 10326, Des Moines, IA 50306-0326.

      • Q: Are there any restrictions for a Pit Bull?
        • A: Des Moines’ ordinance defines any Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, American Pit Bull Terrier breed of dog, American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog or any dog that has the appearance and characteristics of being predominately of the breeds of Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, or American Staffordshire Terrier as vicious. The owner of such an animal must provide a current rabies certificate, written proof of spaying/neutering, if applicable, proof of insurance coverage, as in a homeowners policy, with a minimum liability amount of $100,000 in addition to a letter from the agent on his/her letterhead that states the insured’s vicious dog, by name, is specifically covered by the policy in force. The pet must be confined as required by Section 18-56 of the Municipal Code.

      • Q: Does the City of Des Moines have a leash law?
        • A: Yes, if the dog is on the owner's property it must be restrained by an adequate protective fence or by leash, cord, chain or other similar restraint or the pet must be at all times within the actual physical presence of and immediately obedient to the commands of the owner or person given charge of the dog and at no time be more than six feet from such person. If the dog is off the owner's premises it must be on a leash, cord, or chain or other similar restraint not more than six feet in length and under the control of a person competent to restrain and control the dog. Cats are not required to be leashed; however, if a cat is not confined within a premise, it is required to be spayed or neutered, and properly licensed.

      • Q: When is a building permit required?
        • A:  A Building permit is required when any building or structure is erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished. There are certain "exceptions" when a permit is not required, as in City Code Section 26-231, however, this does not relieve the construction from complying with all applicable laws and ordinances.

      • Q: How can I get a copy of a City Ordinance?
        • A: You can also find a copy of the City Code at any City Library, or online at http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.aspx?productid=13242

          You can also view the City Code at the City Clerk's office on the 1st floor of City Hall, 400 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA. City Hall is just north of the Embassy Suites Hotel on the east side of the Des Moines river.

        • City Code
      • Q: How do I get a permit for a septic system or private water well?
        • A: Contact the City of Des Moines Wastewater Systems Division at (515) 283-4586.

      • Q: How do I get a liquor license?
        • A: All applications for Beer/Liquor Licensed establishments must be submitted to the City Clerk's Office at least thirty days prior to the proposed effective date. In addition, the applicant is required to submit Iowa Articles of Incorporation (if applying as a corporation), a lease or bill of sale for the premise, a detailed sketch reflecting exits, restrooms, seating, etc., Dram insurance, and the required fee in the form of certified funds. Upon receipt of a completed application, an inspection of the premise is requested from the Building, Electrical, Zoning and Fire Departments. A vice report is also requested from the Police Department (The Police Department will require some additional information on a new applicant).
           
          When the premise meets all requirements of the Building, Electrical, Zoning, Fire and Police Department, the application will be submitted to City Council for approval. The approved application is then submitted to State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division for issuance. The license is a yearly license expiring one year from date of issuance.
          For more information about beer/liquor licensing, contact the City Clerk's office at (515) 283-4233.

        • Liquor License Renewal
        • New Liquor License Application Process
      • Q: How do I obtain a restaurant license?
        • A: Restaurant Licenses are issued through the Polk County Office of Environmental Health.
          They provide inspection of restaurants and other food service establishments as well as inspections of grocery stores and other similar food establishments.
          The Polk County Environmental Health Office is located at 5895 NE 14th Street. For more information call, (515) 286-3376.

        • Restaurant Licenses
    • When; When do I; When can; When . . .?
      • Q: When do I need a tent permit?  I am having a wedding, party, sales event, or etc. and plan on putting up a tent. Do I need a tent permit?
        • A:  You need a tent permit if:1. Your tent has no sides, and is larger than 400 square feet2. Your tent has sides, and is larger than 200 square feet.

          A tent permit application may be obtained from the Des Moines Fire Prevention Bureau, 900 Mulberry Street Des Moines, Iowa 50309 (515) 283-4240 or it can be downloaded from the link below. The fee is $40.00 for each tent requiring a permit.

        • Permit To Erect Tent And/Or Supported Structures
    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • Q: What types of fireworks are allowed in Des Moines?
        • A:  Only sparklers and worms/snakes are allowed. Fireworks displays are permitted by licensed operators only. Applications for the Fireworks Display or Pyrotechnics Special Effects Permit may be obtained from the Des Moines Fire Prevention Bureau, 900 Mulberry Street Des Moines, Iowa 50309, (515) 283-4240 or the following form can be downloaded.

        • Application for Fireworks Display or Pyrotechnics Special Effects Permit
      • Q: What are the burn rules for yard waste?  Can I burn yard waste?
        • A:  No, it is illegal to burn within the city limits of Des Moines, including the annexed areas of Warren County. The Polk County Board of Health, Rules and Regulations, Chapter V, Air Pollution Control states, in part: “… It shall be unlawful for any persons to open burn or to permit open burning of any refuse, rubbish, garbage, landscape waste or other combustible material within the cities of Des Moines…from any source from and after September 21, 1983.” For additional information regarding open burning, call the Fire Prevention Bureau @ (515) 283-4240.

      • Q: What are the rules regarding fire pit usage within the city limits?
        • A:  No, the use of fire pits is prohibited within city limits of Des Moines including the annexed areas of Warren County.

      • Q: What is the difference between a fireplace and a grill, and can they be used to cook food?
        • A:  Des Moines follows the rules set by the Polk County Board, the complete policy can be found at: Refer to Article III Section 5-7:
          A “Fireplace”, for the purposes of Article III Section 5-7, means a structure, with an open recess at the base of a chimney or stack, with a grate for food preparation and provisions for under-fire air, for holding an outdoor fire off the ground.
          A “Grill”, for the purposes of Article III Section 5-7, means a cooking utensil with a grate for food preparation and provisions for under-fire air, for holding an outdoor fire off the ground.
          An outdoor fireplace or grill, as defined above, burning untreated wood or charcoal, may be used solely for the non-commercial preparation of food. Such outdoor fireplaces, grills, and fire pits shall not be used for the burning of refuse, rubbish, or garbage.

      • Q: What is meant by the term “City ordinance”?
        • A: The City department charged with the day-to-day administration and enforcement of an ordinance can answer general questions regarding how the ordinances are applied by the City. If the department is unable to answer your question, it can refer you to the Legal Department with expertise in the particular area involved. While we can't give you legal advice, we will try to help any way we can. Search the City Code.

        • City Code
    • Why; Why do I; Why can't; Why . . .?
      • Q: Why are fire pits sold in the city if we cannot use them?
        • A:  Stores sell fire pits to people to take outside the city limits for use (camping, etc.) or to people who live in other cities.

    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who do I contact if the siren in my neighborhood is not working?
        • A:  If your siren is not functioning properly you should contact the Polk County Emergency Management Agency at (515) 286-2107. They will need to know the siren location and description of the problem in order to direct the maintenance/repair request to the proper jurisdiction.

      • Q: Who do I talk to about housing code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

      • Q: Who do I talk to about zoning code enforcement?
        • A: For Housing questions, please call (515) 283-4787. For Zoning questions, please call (515) 283-4207.

  • Property and Land Management
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: When is a building permit required?
        • A:  A Building permit is required when any building or structure is erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished. There are certain "exceptions" when a permit is not required, as in City Code Section 26-231, however, this does not relieve the construction from complying with all applicable laws and ordinances.

  • Report a Problem
    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • What can I do if sewer is backing up in my property?
        • You can report a sewer back up on your property online or by calling the Public Works 24 Hour Customer Service Center at (515) 283-4950.

        • Report a Sewer Problem
  • Request Information or Service
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: How do I get a trademark?
        • A: Do you want a trademark, a copyright, or a trade name?  Call or use the website of the Patent & Trademark Depository Library at the State Library of Iowa, 1112 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50319, phone (515) 281-4102, . Staff can explain the difference between the three, explain how to do a search and provide applications - for FREE!

        • Trademark
      • Q: How do I become a licensed plumber?
        • A: Contact the Permit and Development Center, (515) 283-4200, for requirements for getting your license.

        • Become a plumber
      • Q: How do I report unsanitary or unsafe conditions at a swimming pool or whirlpool?
        • A: For any unsafe or unsanitary conditions with a swimming pool, contact the Neighborhood Inspection Division at (515) 283-4046.

        • Report unsafe condition
      • Q: How do I have my well water tested?
        • A: Contact your local environmental health official through your county board of health.  Or, you can contact the University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) at (319) 335-4500 and ask to have a sampling kit sent to you.  The cost of a water test may be free through the county and will cost about $15 through the UHL.

      • Q: How do I get a permit for a septic system or private water well?
        • A: Contact the City of Des Moines Wastewater Systems Division at (515) 283-4586.

      • Q: How do I get my neighbors to clean up their property?
        • A: Contact the Neighborhood Inspection Division to report problems with junk, junk cars or other debris, at (515) 283-4046.

        • Clean up property
      • Q: How do I find help to care for my elderly relatives?
        • A: There are several resources to find assistance.

        • Elderly Care
      • Q: How do I complain about housing conditions or unhealthy living conditions?
        • A: For contact information for Neighborhood Inspection Code Enforcement or the Housing Code Enforcement, call (515) 283-4046.

        • Neighborhood Inspection
      • Q: How do I apply for a copy of a birth/death certificate?
        • A: Go to the Dept of Health at: http://www.idph.state.ia.us and click on Birth/Death/Marriage Certificates on the right side of the graphic and follow the instructions.

        • Birth/Death Certificate
      • Q: How do I find out about the state automobile auctions?
        • A: The Department of General Services publishes information about its fleet car auctions at: http://das.gse.iowa.gov/fleet/auction.html A preview of the vehicles at auction is also listed on this site.

        • Auto Auctions
      • Q: How do I get a map of Iowa?
        • A: Iowa state maps and other free publications are available from the Department of Economic Development Tourism Division at: http://www.traveliowa.com   Send them an e-mail with name and street address requesting maps and Iowa events literature.

        • Iowa maps
      • Q: How do I know if I need an air construction permit?
        • A: An air construction permit gives permission to build and operate equipment that emits regulated air pollutants.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) issues permits for new stationary sources and modifications of existing stationary sources.  This permit is required for each emission unit that emits regulated pollutants to the outside atmosphere regardless of equipment size, facility size and frequency of operation.  Equipment installed prior to September 23, 1970, is exempt, provided no modifications have been made.
          If your business is less than 100 employees, contact the University of Northern Iowa's Iowa Air Emissions Assistance Program at the Iowa Waste Reduction Center to help ensure your facility obtains proper permits to construct and operate in the state of Iowa.

      • Q: How do I find out more information about selecting a stockbroker?
        • Selecting a stockbroker is a major step in planning for your financial future.  You want a professional that has the necessary training, ethical background and experience.  It is also important that you select someone that you can talk to about yourself and your goals.

        • Stockbroker
      • Q: How do I resolve a disagreement with my stockbroker?
        • A: When you have a disagreement with your broker, you should send a written complaint to the brokerage firm at its home office address setting forth your concerns.  Copies of all correspondence should be kept.  If you do not receive satisfaction, you may contact the Iowa Securities Bureau by telephoning (800) 351-4665, filing a written complaint on its website or writing to Iowa Securities Bureau, 340 Maple Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-0066.
          The complaint form on the website (www.iid.state.ia.us) is located under “Securities and Regulated Industries” “How to File a Complaint.”

        • Stockbroker disagreement
      • Q: How do I become a licensed stockbroker?
        • A: Information on the licensed professions is available on the Iowa Workforce Development website (www.iowaworkforce.org).  The information on a Securities Agent (stockbroker) is located under “Labor Market Information” “LMI Data and Publications” “Licensed Occupations” “Securities Agent.”  You may also contact the Iowa Securities Bureau directly at (800) 351-4665 or by writing to the Iowa Securities Bureau, 340 Maple Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-0066.

        • Become a Stockbroker
      • Q: How do I obtain information about my IPERS account and retirement?
      • Q: How do I buy a lottery ticket in Iowa?
        • A: You must be 21 years old to purchase Lottery tickets in Iowa. You can buy tickets at about 2,650 licensed retailers across the state.
          Tickets cannot be purchased on the Internet at this time. Lottery tickets can be purchased from Lottery.

        • Iowa Lottery
      • Q: How do I find out when the drawings are in Iowa lotto games?
        • A: The schedule of drawings in Iowa lotto games.
          Powerball: Wednesday and Saturday at 9:59 p.m.

        • Iowa Lottery
      • Q: How do I find out how lottery proceeds are used in Iowa?
        • A: Iowa Lottery proceeds go into the state General Fund. That means Lottery dollars are helping all the causes aided by the General Fund -- such as education, transportation and economic development.
           
          Nearly 60 percent of the General Fund is dedicated to education programs and 20 percent to Human Service programs.

        • Iowa Lottery
      • Q: How do I call City Hall?
        • A: City Hall (located at 400 E. First Street) is open 8 AM - 5 PM Monday through Friday.  Call (515) 283-4500

        • City of Des Moines
      • Q: How do I subscribe to the IoWoman newsletter?
        • A: Contact the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women at (515) 281-4461, (800) 558-4427, or dhr.icsw@dhr.state.ia.us. For back copies of the newsletter, visit: http://www.humanrights.iowa.gov/sw/index.html

        • IoWomen
      • Q: How do I find what office I should contact?
        • A: When in doubt, call the Action Center (515) 283-4500.  We'll direct you to the right office!

        • Action Center
      • Q: How do I renew my driver's license?
        • A: The Department of Transportation, at Park Fair Mall, 100 Euclid, can renew your operator's license.
           
          Call (515) 244-1052 for their hours of operation or for more information.

        • Iowa DOT
      • Q: How do I get a marriage license?
        • A: To apply for a marriage license, the bride, groom, and one witness must come to the Polk Country Administration Building at 111 Court Ave. (Room 245.) For more information on cost of the license and what type of ID is required call (515) 286-3781.

        • Polk County
      • Q: How do I renew license plates or transfer titles?
        • Vehicle registration and transfer of titles are handled at the Polk County Administration Building, 111 Court Avenue, Polk County Treasurer's Office.
           
          Call (515) 286-3060 for more information.

        • Vehicle Registration
      • Q: How do I pay for parking or traffic tickets?
        • A: Parking tickets are paid at City Hall 401 E. 1st, other traffic violations are paid at the Polk County Courthouse, Room 102.Parking tickets can be paid electronically by accessing the Transaction Center on our homepage.
           
          For information about your parking tickets contact the City Clerk's Office at (515) 283-4125.
           
          For information on moving violations, contact Traffic Court at (515) 286-3917.

        • Pay Traffic Ticket
      • Q: How do I get a building permit, if I need one?
        • A: Visit the the Permit and Development Center at 602 E. First or call (515) 283-4200.

      • Q: How do I check to see when the libraries are open?
        • A: The most up-to-date list of the Public Library of Des Moines hours and locations can be found by clicking through to our current hours page on our website.

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I get a library card?
        • A: Library cards are issued free to residents of the Des Moines metropolitan area. The Public Library of Des Moines participates in the State of Iowa Open Access Program.
          To obtain a card, a borrower must provide proof of current name and address and a picture I.D. A valid Public Library of Des Moines card must be presented to check out materials. Promptly report a lost or stolen card by calling (515) 283-4152 Ext. 2. There is a $1 fee to replace a lost card. If a borrower has overdue items or late charges, borrowing privileges may be restricted. PLDM cards are honored in all six locations of the Public Library of Des Moines.
          Apply Online!

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I renew my library books?
        • A: Most library materials may be renewed twice. However, items reserved by another customer may not be renewed. To renew items, call Libby at (515) 283-4000, come into the library, or use our online catalog on the Web, any hour, anytime!

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I search the Library Databases?
        • A: Citizens with a valid library card can do research online from home, using our Online Databases.

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I search the Internet?
        • A: The Public Library of Des Moines offers lots of assistance to adults and kids who are seeking information on the Internet.

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I attend a library storytime?
        • A: Don't miss any of our Library Storytimes! This week's schedule is online.

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I contact the library?
        • A: There are many ways to contact your Public Library of Des Moines: online, phone, fax, email, and stopping in!

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I check out events going on at the library?
        • A: The Public Library of Des Moines offers programs and events for all ages. Follow the link below to find a calendar of the events at your neighborhood library. Feel free to visit all six of our locations! Most Public Library of Des Moines events are free of charge, and open to all. A few events do require advance registration. Call the Library if you have any questions, at (515) 283-4152, and press extension "0", or remain on the line to talk to our administrative staff. Thank you for using the Public Library of Des Moines!

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I choose a great book to read?
        • A: The Public Library of Des Moines is a great place for reading! Click on the link below to discover titles and authors recommended by our librarians. You'll even find convenient links to our online catalog, where you can place a hold on your favorite authors!

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I find library materials to reserve and check out?
        • A: Our Library Catalog lists almost half-a-million books, CDs, videos, DVDs, kids materials and other items for you to reserve and use!

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I call Libby, The Virtual Librarian, the library's automated telephone service?
        • A: Call (515) 283-4000 at any time of the day or night, for "Libby," the Library's automated telephone service. Use "Libby" to find out what books are checked out to you or being held for you, to cancel holds, to renew library materials, and to find out any fines you may owe.

        • Des Moines Library
      • Q: How do I pay property taxes?
        • A: Property tax is collected at the Polk County Administration Building, Treasurer's Office, 111 Court Avenue, Room 154

        • Polk County Treasurer
      • Q: How do I find out about metro bus service?
        • A: For bus routes and information about city bus service, call The Metro at (515) 283-8100.  (TDD - (515) 283-8142) For information about paratransit, call (515) 283-8136. 

        • DART
      • Q: How do I find out about paratransit service?
        • A: For information about paratransit service, contact The Metro at (515) 283-8100. (TDD - (515) 283-8142)

        • DART
      • Q: How do I get information about the city budget?
        • A: The City's Operating Budget, Capital Improvements Budget and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report are available through the Finance Department at City Hall (400 E. First) as well as on our website. Call (515) 283-4921 for more information.

        • Des Moines Finance Dept
      • Q: How do I find out who is my city council representative?
        • A: The City of Des Moines is divided into four council wards. To find out information about who represents your ward, call (515) 283-4944.

      • Q: How do I find the address of a city building?
        • A: Here's a list of city building addresses:Argonne Armory, 602 E. First City Hall, 400 E. First Fire Dept. HQ, 900 Mulberry Housing Services, 100 Euclid, Park Fair Mall Central Library, 100 Locust Police Dept. HQ, 25 E. First Botanical Center, 909 E. River Drive For more information contact the Action Center at (515) 283-4500.

      • Q: How do I get a tree planted in front of my house?
        • A: Contact the City of Des Moines Forestry Division at (515) 283-4950.

      • Q: How do I get the tree trimmed in front of my house?
        • A: The City's Forestry Division maintains trees on city owned right-of-ways (this includes the area between the sidewalk and the curb) alleyways, medians, and other city owned property.) Maintenance includes, trimming, pruning, or removal. Planting of new trees may also be available.
          For further information contact the Forestry Division at (515) 283-4950.

      • Q: How do I report weeds on a vacant lot or a neighboring property?
        • A: Weed control is handled by the Polk County Weed Commission. To report a vacant lot or any other privately-owned property that needs to be mowed, contact the Polk County Weed Commission at (515) 286-3005.
          If the property needing attention is a park or other city-owned property, contact the Parks Department at (515) 237-1386.

        • Polk County Weed Control
      • Q: How do I dispose of paint or lawn chemicals?
      • Q: How do I get my street cleaned?
        • A: Main streets are swept 8-10 times per year. Residential streets are swept 4-5 times per year.
          If you have questions about street cleaning, contact the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.

      • Q: How do I report a sidewalk that needs to be repaired?
        • A: Property owners are responsible for the repair of sidewalks adjacent to their property. To report a sidewalk in need of repair, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.
           If you've been notified that your walk needs to be repaired and you do not do so in a timely manner, the City has the authority to repair the walk and collect the cost of the repair from you.
          Low-income property owners may be eligible for assistance if they can not afford to make the necessary repairs.  For information on the sidewalk subsidy program, call (515) 283-4574.

      • Q: How do I report a pothole?
        • A: To report a pothole or a street in need of repair, contact the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.

      • Q: How do I report a barking dog?
        • A: If you have a problem with a barking dog and would like to report it during normal business hours (M-F, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, call our Animal Control Unit at (515) 283-4811.
           
          After hours or on weekends, call the Des Moines Police Department Non-Emergency Dispatch line at (515) 283-4811.

      • Q: How do I find out about city cemeteries?
        • A: Des Moines municipal cemeteries are maintained by the City's Parks Department. For information on available lots, decoration guidelines, or hours of operation, call (515) 237-1386.
           
          Currently lots are available only at these two municipal cemeteries: Glendale Cemetery 4909 University Avenue (515) 271-8722.
          Laurel Hill Cemetery: 3601 East Court (515) 265-0873. Other municipal cemeteries include: Woodland/St. Ambrose, Oak Grove, and Sims.  

      • Q: How do I contact Polk County Crime Stoppers?
        • A: To remain anonymous while giving helpful information about a crime, contact the Polk County Crime Stoppers office at (515) 223-1400.
          Polk County Crime Stoppers is an organization of concerned citizens which encourages the public to join in the fight against criminal activity in the Greater Des Moines Area. Crime Stoppers provides a means for the public to remain anonymous while they give information to assist law enforcement agencies. Rewards are offered to encourage citizen participation. All cities and rural areas in Polk County are represented on the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors.

        • Crime Stoppers
      • Q: How do I find out about swimming lessons?
        • A: The Central Iowa Chapter of the American Red Cross provides swim lessons and water safety to children in the Des Moines area using the Learn to Swim Program.  Based on seven levels of swimming achievement, the program provides swimming skills, water safety, and physical endurance in an aquatic environment.
          For more information contact the Red Cross at (515) 243-7681.

        • Iowa Red Cross
      • Q: How do I find information about Real Estate valuations?
        • A: The Polk County Assessor's Office located at 111 Court Avenue, Room 195 can assist with information concerning property taxes, property value and ownership. 
           
          Contact the Polk County Assessor at (515) 286-3014 or their web site.

        • Polk County Assessor
      • Q: How do I find out which day my garbage, recycling, or yard waste is picked up?
        • A: To find out which day your garbage, recycling, or yard waste is collected or to find out about guidelines for collection, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.

        • Pickup Day by Address
      • Q: How do I find out what I can put in my blue recycling bin?
        • A: Green recycling bins are provided for the collection of:
          Newspapers Magazines Old mail Catalogs Paper of any color (not contaminated by food or waste) Materials like cereal, cracker and tissue boxes Clear glass (throw away lids) Brown paper sacks Tin/aluminum cans (labels on, lids off)#1 and #2 plastics like milk, 2 liters, laundry detergent, bleach and shampoo bottles Flattened cardboard. For additional information about recycling, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.
          Or contact the Metro Waste Authority at (515) 244-0021.

        • Metro Waste
        • What Goes in Collection Carts
      • Q: How do I dispose of yard waste?
      • Q: How do I get a liquor license?
        • A: All applications for Beer/Liquor Licensed establishments must be submitted to the City Clerk's Office at least thirty days prior to the proposed effective date. In addition, the applicant is required to submit Iowa Articles of Incorporation (if applying as a corporation), a lease or bill of sale for the premise, a detailed sketch reflecting exits, restrooms, seating, etc., Dram insurance, and the required fee in the form of certified funds. Upon receipt of a completed application, an inspection of the premise is requested from the Building, Electrical, Zoning and Fire Departments. A vice report is also requested from the Police Department (The Police Department will require some additional information on a new applicant).
           
          When the premise meets all requirements of the Building, Electrical, Zoning, Fire and Police Department, the application will be submitted to City Council for approval. The approved application is then submitted to State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division for issuance. The license is a yearly license expiring one year from date of issuance.
          For more information about beer/liquor licensing, contact the City Clerk's office at (515) 283-4233.

        • Liquor License Renewal
        • New Liquor License Application Process
      • Q: How do I report a business to the Better Business Bureau?
        • A: The Better Business Bureau (BBB) system in the U.S. extends over 98% of the nation; coast-to-coast, and in Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.
           
          To contact the local Better Business Bureau, call (515) 243-8137.

        • Better Business Bureau
      • Q: How do I locate buried cables?
        • A: Iowa One Call provides contractors, homeowners, and others who may be excavating, digging or trenching with a single toll-free number to call for locating and marking underground facilities. The toll-free Iowa One Call number is (800) 292-8989.
           
          Iowa law states that if you are excavating, including digging, you must call Iowa One Call at least 48 hours in advance (of your digging) in order to minimize the risk of damaging any type of underground facilities (electric, gas, telecommunications, cable television, water and sewer). The service is free, and so is the phone call. Making the phone call can help eliminate the risk of disrupting service, and greatly reduce the potential risk of serious personal injury.

        • Iowa One Call
      • Q: How do I register my business name?
        • A: The Polk County Recorder's office maintains all official real estate documents and provides retrieval and reproduction of these records for the public and businesses.
           
          The Recorder's office also maintains and retrieves other official documents such as contracts, articles of incorporation, partnerships, State tax liens, and military records.
           
          You can contact the Polk County Recorder's office by calling (515) 286-3160. They are located in the Polk County Administration Building at 111 Court Avenue in Room 250.

        • Polk County Recorder
      • Q: How do I find out about hotels in Des Moines?
        • A: The Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitor's Bureau maintains a listing of accommodations in the Des Moines area.
           
          The CVB is located at 405 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, Des Moines Iowa 50309 and can be reached by calling (800) 451-2625 or emailing info@desmoinescvb.com

        • Des Moines CVB
      • Q: How do I contact the newspaper in Des Moines?
        • A: The Des Moines Register is the local daily newsletter for the Greater Des Moines area.
           
          To contact the Register, call (515) 284-8000.

        • Des Moines Register
      • Q: How do I set up water service in Des Moines?
        • A: Des Moines Water Works is a municipal utility providing drinking water to more than 300,000 people in the Des Moines metropolitan area.
           
          The utility is located on the banks of the Raccoon River, its primary source of untreated water. Additional water is pumped from the Des Moines River and infiltration gallery. The utility operates Water Works Park, about 1500 acres of land near downtown Des Moines. Maffitt Reservoir, located southwest of the metropolitan area, was constructed as a reserve water supply. Located on 600 acres of land, the wooded area is a popular place for fishing and hiking.
           
          Des Moines Water Works' Customer Service Department at 2201 Valley Drive is open from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Phones are answered 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays. For assistance, call (515) 283-8700.
           

        • Des Moines Water Works
      • Q: How do I get information about the Downtown Community Alliance?
        • A: The Downtown Community Alliance is a non-profit organization whose mission is to achieve a shared vision for the future of downtown Des Moines by providing leadership, initiative and advocacy, building partnerships and achieving shared solutions. Its programs and events include the Downtown Farmers Market, Fire In The Sky, Operation Downtown, ImaginEve!, Skywalk Open Golf Tournament, Entertainment District, retail development, downtown beautification, residential development and communications.
           
          Downtown Community Alliance offices are located at 700 Locust St., Suite 100. To contact the Downtown Community Alliance call (515) 286-4950 or email alego@downtowndsm.info

        • Downtown Community Alliance
      • Q: How do I find out about the Downtown Farmer's Market?
        • A: The Downtown Community Alliance is a non-profit organization whose mission is to achieve a shared vision for the future of downtown Des Moines by providing leadership, initiative and advocacy, building partnerships and achieving shared solutions. Its programs and events include the Downtown Farmers Market, Fire In The Sky, Operation Downtown, ImaginEve!, Skywalk Open Golf Tournament, Entertainment District, retail development, downtown beautification, residential development and communications.
           
          Downtown Community Alliance offices are located at 700 Locust St., Suite 100. To contact the Alliance call, (515) 286-4950 or email alego@downtowndsm.info

        • Downtown Community Alliance
      • Q: How do I find out about the Fire in the Sky event?
        • A: The Downtown Community Alliance is a non-profit organization whose mission is to achieve a shared vision for the future of downtown Des Moines by providing leadership, initiative and advocacy, building partnerships and achieving shared solutions. Its programs and events include the Downtown Farmers Market, Fire In The Sky, Operation Downtown, ImaginEve!, Skywalk Open Golf Tournament, Entertainment District, retail development, downtown beautification, residential development and communications.
           
          Downtown Community Alliance offices are located at 700 Locust St., Suite 100. To contact the Alliance call, (515) 286-4950 or email alego@downtowndsm.info

        • Downtown Community Alliance
      • Q: How do I find out about Operation Downtown?
        • A: The Downtown Community Alliance is a non-profit organization whose mission is to achieve a shared vision for the future of downtown Des Moines by providing leadership, initiative and advocacy, building partnerships and achieving shared solutions. Its programs and events include the Downtown Farmers Market, Fire In The Sky, Operation Downtown, ImaginEve!, Skywalk Open Golf Tournament, Entertainment District, retail development, downtown beautification, residential development and communications.
           
          Downtown Community Alliance offices are located at 700 Locust St., Suite 100. To contact the Alliance call, (515) 286-4950 or email alego@downtowndsm.info

        • Downtown Community Alliance
      • Q: How do I find out about the Skywalk Open Golf Tournament?
        • A: The Downtown Community Alliance is a non-profit organization whose mission is to achieve a shared vision for the future of downtown Des Moines by providing leadership, initiative and advocacy, building partnerships and achieving shared solutions. Its programs and events include the Downtown Farmers Market, Fire In The Sky, Operation Downtown, ImaginEve!, Skywalk Open Golf Tournament, Entertainment District, retail development, downtown beautification, residential development and communications.

          Downtown Community Alliance offices are located at 400 Locust St., Suite 255. To contact the Alliance call, (515) 243-6625 or email info@desmoinesdt.com

        • Downtown Community Alliance
      • Q: How do I get information to assist me with my business?
        • A: The City of Des Moines Office of Economic Development assists businesses who wish to locate or expand in the City of Des Moines. 
           
          The City of Des Moines Office of Economic Development is located at 400 E. First Street. To reach the office by phone, call (515) 283-4004.
          The State of Iowa Office of Economic Development is located at 200 E. Grand. To reach the office by phone, call (515) 242-4700.
           

        • City of Des Moines Office of Economic Development
      • Q: How do I find out about community service assignments?
        • A: Community Service assignments are handled through the Department of Corrections. Call (515) 288-9533 for more information.

      • Q: How do I become a licensed day care provider?
        • A: Licensing for daycare providers and in-home child care providers is available through the State of Iowa. For more information, call (515) 283-9100.

        • Become a Daycare Provider
      • Q: How do I contact the Chamber of Commerce?
        • A: The Greater Des Moines Partnership is a consolidation of three groups -- The Des Moines Development Corporation, the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Federation and Choose Des Moines Communities.
           
          To contact the Greater Des Moines Partnership, call (515) 286-4950 or (800) 376-9059 or send an email to info@desmoinesmetro.com

        • Greater Des Moines Partnership
      • Q: How do I contact the Greater Des Moines Partnership?
        • A: The Greater Des Moines Partnership is a consolidation of three groups -- The Des Moines Development Corporation, the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Federation and Choose Des Moines Communities.
          To contact the Greater Des Moines Partnership, call (515) 286-4950 or (800) 376-9059 or send an email to info@desmoinesmetro.com

        • Greater Des Moines Partnership
      • Q: How do I get a general contractor's license?
        • A: General contractors are not licensed by the City of Des Moines.
           
          To obtain information on becoming registration as a general contractor with the State of Iowa, call (515) 242-5871 or stop by 1000 E. Grand for an application.

        • Become a General Contractor
      • Q: How do I report unfair labor practices?
        • A: To report unfair labor practices contact the State of Iowa Department of Labor at (515) 281-3606.

        • Report Labor Practices
      • Q: How do I get immigration and citizenship information?
        • A: The Immigration and Naturalization Service is a division of the Department of Justice. To contact the local Immigration Office call, (515) 323-2050.  To contact the national customer service call center, call, (800) 375-5283.

        • Immigration and Naturalization Service
      • Q: How do I obtain a restaurant license?
        • A: Restaurant Licenses are issued through the Polk County Office of Environmental Health.
          They provide inspection of restaurants and other food service establishments as well as inspections of grocery stores and other similar food establishments.
          The Polk County Environmental Health Office is located at 5895 NE 14th Street. For more information call, (515) 286-3376.

        • Restaurant Licenses
      • Q: How do I get a passport?
        • A: To apply for a passport, call (800) 275-8777 or visit your U.S. Post Office for a passport form.

        • Get a Passport
      • Q: How do I find out about road closings?
        • A: To get information about city street closings, contact the Traffic & Transportation Division at (515) 283-4973.
           
          To get information about DOT projects or state road closings, contact the State Dept. of Transportation at (515) 239-1101 or visit their website at http://www.dot.state.ia.us

        • Iowa Road Closures
      • Q: How do I get information about the I-235 construction project?
        • A: I-235 in its entirety will be repaved by 2006. For information about this project contact the I-235 Project Manager at (515) 237-3315.
           
          You can also sign up for updates via email by visiting the website listed below.

        • I-235 Project Information
      • Q: How do I report a street or intersection that needs to be sanded?
        • A: To check on the status on ice control operations or if you want to report a street or intersection that is in need of attention, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.

        • Report Snow or Ice Issues
      • Q: How do I get my street plowed?
        • A: To check on the status on snow plowing operations or if snow operations are complete and your street is still in need of attention, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.

          When snow accumulations exceed one inch, plowing is initiated on streets in the snow route system. Designated snow routes are given first priority for snow and ice control. Clearance of snow from the snow routes normally takes from 24 to 36 hours after the snowfall ends.
           
          When snow accumulations exceed four inches, residential plowing will begin after the completion of snow route plowing. Clearance of snow from the residential streets normally takes an additional 36 hours. If you live on or near a cul-de-sac or dead end, special equipment is used to plow these areas.

        • Report a Street Plow Request
      • Q: How do I report a dead animal?
        • A: To report a dead animal, please call the Animal Control Unit at (515) 242-2720 during regular business hours. (M-F 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM)
           
          After hours or on weekends, call the Des Moines Police Department Non-Emergency Dispatch line at (515) 283-4811.

      • Q: How do I report an animal bite?
        • A: Any victim bitten by a warm blooded animal or owner of any animal which bites a human or another animal should immediately report that incident by calling the Animal Control Unit (515) 283-4811 or the Des Moines Police Department (515) 283-4811.

      • Q: How do I become a Des Moines Police Officer?
        • A: For information on becoming a Des Moines Police Officer contact the City of Des Moines Human Resources Office at (515) 283-4213 or visit the link below.

      • Q: How do I sign up for the Citizen Police Academy?
        • A: To sign up or get information about the Citizen Police Academy, contact the Regional Training Facility at (515) 256-2560.

      • Q: How do I report child abuse or sexual abuse?
        • A: To report abuse contact our specially trained investigators at (515) 283-4864.
           
          Normal business hours for the Sexual Abuse / Child Trauma Section are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. After hours or on weekends, call (515) 283-4811.
           
          If this is an emergency situation, call 911.

      • Q: How do I report a suspected drug house?
        • A: If you observe drug activity occurring, please call the Police Dept. at 911 or (515) 283-4811 at any time of the day or night.

          If the drug activity is not in progress, please call the Vice and Narcotics Unit at (515) 283-4830, Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

          It's helpful if you're able to provide the following information:

          1. The address or a specific location of the activity.

          2. A description of the residence.
           
          3. Names, if known, or description of the people involved in the activity.

          4. Time of day the activity is occurring.

          5. Description and/or license plate numbers of vehicles that may be involved.

      • Q: How do I file a complaint about discrimination?
        • A: If you wish to explore the possibility of filing a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, please call (800) 457-4416 ext. 14437 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you do not wish to file a complaint but would like to report an incident of discrimination you can do so on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission website.

        • Civil Rights Commission
      • Q: How do I contact the local newspaper?
        • A: There is only one daily newspaper in Des Moines, the Des Moines Register.  You can contact the Register by calling (515) 284-8000.

        • Des Moines Register
      • Q: How do I find out about Community Service assignments?
      • Q: How do I find out who my senator or representative is?
      • Q: How do I get help if I've been the victim of a crime?
        • A: The Crime Victim Assistance Division (CVAD) of the Attorney General's Office helps to provide services and assistance to victims of violent crimes. The division is responsible for administering victim programs at the state level, including the Crime Victims Compensation, Sexual Abuse Examination and Victim Services Grant programs.
          Contact: Crime Victim Assistance Division,
          100 Court Avenue, Suite 100, Des Moines, Iowa 50319 Phone: (515) 281-5044, (800) 373-5044, Fax: (515) 281-8199.

        • Crime Victim Assistance Division
      • Q: How do I get license my daycare?
        • A: For information on licensing for daycare centers and in-home child care providers contact the State of Iowa Department of Human Services at (515) 283-9100.

        • licensing for daycare centers
      • Q: How do I get information about U.S. Customs regulations?
        • A: For information about U.S. Customs rules and regulations contact the United States Department of the Treasury at (515) 284-4403.

        • U.S. Customs
      • Q: How do I report a gas leak?
      • Q: How do I obtain a going-out-of-business permit?
        • A: To obtain a going-out-of-business permit contact the City Clerk's Office at (515) 283-4233.

      • Q: How do I get a handicapped parking sticker?
        • A: To obtain a handicapped parking sticker you must complete an Application for Persons With Disabilities Parking Permit.

          Applications are available at any Drivers License Service Center or from the Office of Vehicle Services, Park Fair Mall, 100 Euclid Avenue, P. O. Box 9278, Des Moines, IA 50306-9278. You may also call (515) 237-3110 for an application.
          You must also provide a medical statement from a physician, chiropractor, physician's assistant or nurse practitioner on their letterhead stationery, stating the applicant is a person with a disability and that the disability is either  temporary or permanent.
          Mail the application and medical statement for the removable windshield placard, sticker or plate to :Iowa Department of Transportation Office of Vehicle Services Park Fair Mall, 100 Euclid Avenue P O Box 9278 Des Moines, Ia 50306-9278

          or take the application to any Driver's License Service Center to obtain the removable windshield placard.

          Complete information is available on the DOT website. 

        • Iowa DOT
      • Q: How do I find out when the next Council Meeting is?
        • A: Use the meetings calendar to find out when the next Council, Zoning,  or any City wide meeting is scheduled.

      • Q: How do I request to speak to the City Council?
        • A: Click the link below and fill out the form to schedule a request to speak before the City Council of Des Moines.

      • Q: How do I contact the city regarding a request, information or complaint?
        • A: Please call the Action Center: (515) 283-4500
           
          Or click the link below to use the CDMSS (City of Des Moines Self-Service) form to request, or contact the City of Des Moines.

      • Q: How do I request a new toter?
        • A: Contact Des Moines Public Works

    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who do I call to report a sidewalk that isn't shoveled?
        • A: To report a walkway where snow or ice has not been property removed, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.

          To help ensure that sidewalks are safe during the winter, City ordinance requires residents to remove snow and ice from sidewalks within 48 hours following the end of the snowfall. Property owners who do not comply are subject to a civil citation.

        • Report a Sidewalk needing Repair
  • Safety
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: How do I report child abuse or sexual abuse?
        • A: To report abuse contact our specially trained investigators at (515) 283-4864.
           
          Normal business hours for the Sexual Abuse / Child Trauma Section are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. After hours or on weekends, call (515) 283-4811.
           
          If this is an emergency situation, call 911.

  • Streets and Sidewalks
    • Who; Who do I; Who can; Who . . .?
      • Q: Who do I call to report a sidewalk that isn't shoveled?
        • A: To report a walkway where snow or ice has not been property removed, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.

          To help ensure that sidewalks are safe during the winter, City ordinance requires residents to remove snow and ice from sidewalks within 48 hours following the end of the snowfall. Property owners who do not comply are subject to a civil citation.

        • Report a Sidewalk needing Repair
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q: How do I report a street or intersection that needs to be sanded?
        • A: To check on the status on ice control operations or if you want to report a street or intersection that is in need of attention, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.

        • Report Snow or Ice Issues
      • Q: How do I get my street plowed?
        • A: To check on the status on snow plowing operations or if snow operations are complete and your street is still in need of attention, call the Public Works 24-hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950.

          When snow accumulations exceed one inch, plowing is initiated on streets in the snow route system. Designated snow routes are given first priority for snow and ice control. Clearance of snow from the snow routes normally takes from 24 to 36 hours after the snowfall ends.
           
          When snow accumulations exceed four inches, residential plowing will begin after the completion of snow route plowing. Clearance of snow from the residential streets normally takes an additional 36 hours. If you live on or near a cul-de-sac or dead end, special equipment is used to plow these areas.

        • Report a Street Plow Request
      • Q: How do I report a dead animal?
        • A: To report a dead animal, please call the Animal Control Unit at (515) 242-2720 during regular business hours. (M-F 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM)
           
          After hours or on weekends, call the Des Moines Police Department Non-Emergency Dispatch line at (515) 283-4811.

      • Q: How do I report a pothole?
        • A: Call the Public Works 24-Hour Call Center at (515) 283-4950 or report online using the Pothole Report Form. To more accurately find the pothole needing repair we need to have the intersection or street, block number, and lane direction.

        • Pothole Report Form
      • Q: How do I report a broken concrete curb or sidewalk?
      • Q: How do I know if a sidewalk is considered defective?
    • What; What do I; What is; What . . .?
      • Q: What is the street sweeping schedule?
        • A: There is not a formal schedule. We sweep the entire cities paved surfaces a minimum of four times each year.

  • Visitor Information
    • How; How do I; How can; How . . .?
      • Q:  Who can apply for a job with the City?
        • A:  Only U.S. citizens and legal aliens are eligible for hire. Passing a pre-employment physical and drug screen is required prior to employment. Applicants with Disabilities Qualified applicants with a disability who need assistance in completing the on-line application and/or reasonable accommodation in order to take the examination must request assistance and/or accommodations from Human Resources prior to the application date and examination date.  You may email us or call our office at (515) 283-4213.THE CITY OF DES MOINES IS AN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION/EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER. FEMALES, MINORITIES AND THE DISABLED ARE ENCOURAGED TO APPLY.THE CITY OF DES MOINES IS A SMOKE–FREE ENVIRONMENT
          Fire Recruitment Requirements The basic requirements needed to complete a firefighter application include: 1. High school diploma or GED 2. Valid Iowa driver's license 3. Candidate must turn 21 years old on or before the day the application period for firefighter ends 4. Candidate cannot have any felony convictions For complete details on the fire recruitment process and qualifications needed prior to date of appointment see Fire Employment Process.

      • Q: How do I apply for a job with the City?
        • A: Call the JOB LINE at (515) 283-4115 or go to Human Resources (Room 103) in City Hall at 400 E. First Street.
           
          You can now apply online by clicking on the job title you are interested in and clicking on the "Apply" link! If this is the first time you are applying using our online job application, you will need to create an account and select a Username and Password.
          After your account has been established, you can build an application by clicking on the "Build Job Application" link. This application can be saved and used to apply for more than one job opening.

        • Des Moines Jobs
      • Q: How is online application information secured?
        • A: Online applications are stored on a secure site. Only authorized employees and hiring authorities have access to the information submitted.
          It is important that your application show all the relevant education and experience you possess. Applications may be rejected if incomplete.  Please make sure you answer all supplemental questions that might be related to the job posting.