Looking to bolster business in the city’s famed Italian Market, business owners are working with the city to change a long-standing ordinance that dictates who can own street-side carts in the outdoor bazaar.
"We want to try and make it as diverse as possible and have as many products down there as we can,” said Councilman Mark Squilla. “Our goal is to get as many people down there and shopping in the market as possible."
Currently, the Philadelphia City Code prohibits vendors from running more than two curbside businesses -- including at outdoor markets like the Italian Market along S. 9th Street. That measure was put in place more than 100 years ago.
However, the Italian Market, America’s oldest outdoor market, has dozens of vacant and unused carts dotting its six-block stretch from East Passyunk Avenue to Christian Street. Squilla said in some cases, families would purchase licenses under the names of family members to amass a large presence, but then not open or open sporadically.
"You can have one family owning 50 of them, which is fine as long as they were being used," he said.
City departments like Health and Licenses & Inspections also had trouble knowing who actually owned each cart to ensure that laws were being followed.
To solve the problem, Squilla, who represents the district where the market resides, sponsored a new ordinance that would exclude the Italian Market from the city’s current street side rules.
Under the new ordinance, the South 9th Street Businesses Association, which represents business owners, would handle licensing the carts with the city and dictate who can open along the corridor.
"All the people down there that actually have the stands have a vested interest in the market," he said. "They can make sure that the stands are actually open."
The 9th Street Business Association would determine which vendors could run multiple stands and preference would be given to those businesses who are already set up along 9th Street.
The ordinance was passed by Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Streets and Services on Tuesday and will go to the full council on Thursday.
A final vote is set for Nov. 7.
Squilla expects the measure to pass in full council.