City Council has given preliminary approval to a long-overdue overhaul of the regulations that govern vendors on the Downtown Mall. Responding to merchant complaints that downtown comes to look like an overcrowded flea market around Christmas, the new regulations increase the annual cost for a vendor’s license from $120 (if memory serves) to $400, and charges $2 per square foot in rent. Smaller changes include prohibiting open flames, unapproved clothing racks, and require table coverings to be black. Final approval is expected at the next City Council meeting in two weeks. Elizabeth Nelson has the story in today’s Progress.