Apr 7, 2021 - News
Des Moines City Council cracks down on "scooping the loop"
A gif showing downtown Des Moines near the sculpture park in 1985 and 2021.
A gif showing downtown Des Moines near the sculpture park in 1985 and 2021. Images via Google Earth

Scooping the loop in Des Moines is a coming-of-age tradition bred out of Midwest boredom and our love for long drives.

But city officials, like they have for decades, say it's a nuisance to downtown residents that needs to change.

  • Why it matters: The weekend gathering is as classic as a corn dog, but it's at risk because of complaints about noise, loitering and high speeds.

Driving the news: The Des Moines City Council voted to restrict parking along 12th Street between Walnut and Grand on Monday to dampen the crowd.

  • Councilman Joe Gatto said he was worried restricting parking could hurt downtown businesses. The compromise is no parking on Fridays and Saturdays between 9pm and 6am.

Scooping the loop ā€” the DSM tradition of young people driving their cars in a loop downtown and parking to hangout with their friends ā€” has seen a rise in popularity during our pandemic standstill.

  • But unlike decades past, downtown is now full of apartments, restaurants and actual storefronts ā€” aka, more people to bother.

Flashback: It's expected teens and young adults will want to "see and be seen in their cars," the Register opinion staff wrote in 1987.

  • That year, a city task force suggested building a "drive-in restaurant" to hold car rallies and "non-alcoholic parties for youngsters" downtown to stifle the activity.

What's next: Council members said parking restrictions are only a short-term solution and are considering new street designs and installing four-way stops.

Our take: Des Moines teen Pat Parker said it best in her letter to the editor to the Register in 1966.

  • "The parents say, stay out of the loop. But what are we to do with our evenings? Parents, answer that for us."

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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