The 13-member council voted 7-6 in favor of the proposal, which needed eight votes to pass and will be brought up again for another possible vote Friday.
"We are City Council members and weren't elected to deal with foreign affairs," Councilwoman Wendy Gruel said after the vote that came at the end of a series of speakers, including actors Ed Asner and David Clennon.
"I believe that this war, if (President) George Bush starts it, will be a crime against humanity," said Clennon, a veteran-supporting actor who appeared in films such as "The Paper Chase," "From the Earth to the Moon," and the anti-war film, "Go Tell the Spartans."
Asner railed against the "failed" Bush administration and ventured that the Iraq crisis and the war against terrorism were "aimed at keeping the (American) people intimidated."
The testimony was largely orderly, although two police officers escorted a white-haired woman in a "Green Power" T-shirt out of the packed council chambers after she was declared out of order.
Ninety communities nationwide have passed symbolic resolutions against the anticipated war in Iraq. The communities include a number of college towns as well as major cities such as Chicago, Seattle, Detroit and San Francisco.
While such resolutions carry no authority, council members such as Gruel and Jack Weiss, with the concurrence of Mayor Jim Hahn, voted against the measure because they believed it was inappropriate for the council to take a formal position on Iraq.
"In my view," Weiss told the hearing, "we ought to be focusing on fixing sidewalks and not (Iraqi leader) Saddam (Hussein)."