There will be a Public Hearing at Des Moines City Hall on Thursday, May 14 starting at 7 PM regarding the vacation and sale of a section of well used publicly owned sidewalk on 7th Ave. S. in downtown Des Moines to a private developer. This sidewalk is a necessary part of the system-wide right of way (road and sidewalk) all along that crucial downtown corridor. Public ownership is essential for pedestrian safety and successful commercial development downtown. If a portion of the public right of way is vacated, limited public usage may continue if the private property owner grants an easement of passage. However, other public uses appear to be vacated along with the vacation of public ownership including placement of signs (political/commercial/real estate) and freedoms of speech, assembly, and petition.
This vacation of public right of way of a critical component for downtown access would set a precedent for future vacations/sales of public right of way to private parties under the principle that private property owners are treated equally.