By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City Council is making it easier for merchants at the Italian Market to fill up curbside stands that are now vacant.

The curbside vendor stands at the famed Italian Market are dotted with vacancies. In fact, about half of the 162 stands on Ninth Street from Federal to Christian Streets are currently empty. And an old law makes filling those vacancies difficult.

“The old legislation states that one owner can own no more than two stands,” says Michele Gambino, Business Manager of the United Merchants of the South Ninth Street Business Association.

“There are a number of stands that are not operating, that are delinquent, that remain empty,” she says. “We want to populate those stands with businesses. The more businesses on the street, the more shoppers we will have.”

City Council’s Streets and Services Committee on Tuesday approved changes to the law so that the Association can take control of all the vacant stands, and Gambino says the limit of two per merchant will be gone.

“It will allow us to populate the delinquent stands with other businesses,” she says, “to make the South Ninth Street business corridor a more vibrant corridor for shopping.”

The measure now goes to the full council for a vote, and approval is expected. Gambino says the merchants of the Italian Market are thrilled.

“We’re very happy, yes. We’ve been fighting for this for three years,” she says. “It’s a 100-plus-year-old tradition that we would like to preserve and continue into 100 more years.”