The Tempe City Council could tell street vendors to hit the road.
The council plans to debate at an Oct. 30 meeting whether it should kill street vending within the city because it has failed to succeed.
Since 1996, when the city decided to encourage street vendors to peddle their wares downtown, the business has been disappointing, city officials said.
On average, said Councilwoman Pam Goronkin, the city receives one vending application per year.
But Goronkin added that no one has ever sought a renewal after the oneyear permit expired.
"They’re here for three to six months and then they’re gone," she said.
The city started looking to change its vending policy nearly two years ago after a downtown store complained that street vendors would damage business.
Polar Juice applied for a permit to sell water and other drinks at College Avenue and University Drive in November 2001.
But a nearby convenience store, the Campus Corner,
argued the vendor would take away business from the small shop.
The council denied the permit, but never revisited the larger issue of street vending until Thursday night’s council meeting when Hot Diggity’s Mobile Food Vendors’ application resurrected the subject.
The council issued the permit to the vendor, but city officials do not know what would happen if vending is shut down within the city.
A majority of the council supports vending but Councilman Leonard Copple fears the vendors will take away business from downtown stores, damaging the local economy.
"We don’t need them downtown," he said, "not in these hard economic times."
The councilman added that local businesses that pay rent do not need to compete with the vendors who can sell their merchandise at a cheaper price.
But Goronkin, who favors vending, said the business has failed and the council needs to discuss how it can cure the sick industry.
"For whatever reason, they’re not making it," Goronkin said. She said she favors vendors because they bring color and diversity to the area.