Beginning May 1, Rod Gibb hopes the smell of his hot dogs begin tempting people who walk the streets of downtown.

He's not alone in his dream. Thanks to the Salt Lake City Council's action Tuesday night, downtown and Sugarhouse soon will be filled with street-side vendors selling food, balloons or flowers."The clientele is already there. It's a set market," said Gibb, who recently sold a sandwich shop. He plans to sell a hot dog and a drink for about $1.80.

City officials said street vendors fit into their plans to turn downtown into a vibrant place. Downtown merchants were skeptical of the plan at first, but they were mollified by promises the vendors won't compete directly with them. The Chamber of Commerce endorsed the idea, although not unanimously.

Doug Dansie, the city's community planner, said the city tried to be diplomatic while drafting the ordinance allowing vendors.

"It's a tight-rope walk," he said. "On the one hand, we want to make downtown more people-oriented. On the other hand, we don't want it to become trashy."

He said the city was encouraged by the success of its ordinance allowing horse-drawn carriages downtown. Street vendors seemed like a logical next step. The city contacted every large town from Charlotte, N.C., to Portland, Ore., and asked how they handle vendors.

"A lot of cities have told us just to stay away from it, that's it's a Pandora's box," Dansie said. "Particularly, Washington and New York told us this."

But the vendors who begin selling in Salt Lake City in May will be limited to selling food, balloons or flowers. "You won't have people selling umbrellas or T-shirts," Dansie said. Only eight vendors will be allowed per square block - two on each side of the street. Everyone will be given a one-year permit to sell on a particular street.

The food vendors will have to stay at least 100 feet away from restaurants. Flower vendors will have to keep the same distance from florists.

Permits will be issued starting April 1 on a first-come-first-served basis. The city will hold a drawing for applications that come in on the same day. Dansie said he expects a lot of vendors to apply for a space along State Street between South Temple and 100 South - directly in front of the ZCMI Center and Crossroads Plaza.

To make things fair, the city will rotate the permits each year. Vendors with a lucrative site one year may end up on 900 South the next year.

Vending will be allowed between South Temple and 900 South and between 200 East and 400 West. In Sugarhouse, vendors will be on 2100 South between 900 East and 1300 East; on Highland Drive between Ramona Avenue and I-80; and on Wilmington Avenue between Highland Drive and 1300 East.