For months, immigrant rights groups pushed the council to take a stance on sanctuary rights in light of President Donald Trump's policies. They want the city to support its large immigrant population.
But one roadblock had been Mayor Tim Flynn, who believes the issue is too divisive. While the council cast their vote Tuesday, Flynn was not at the meeting and instead it was Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez. Ramirez disagreed with Flynn.
During the Tuesday meeting, the majority of the council voted in favor of the status. In June, a commission had passed a recommendation to the council to make the city a sanctuary city, but Tuesday's resolution approval simply calls it a "safe city."
The decision came the same day as the Justice Department cracked down on sanctuary cities. The department said it will no longer award grant money to the cities unless federal immigration agents get access to local jails and get advance notice when an undocumented immigrant will be released.
Under old rules, cities seeking grant money needed only to show they were not preventing local law enforcement from communicating with federal authorities about the immigration status of people they have detained.
The conditions apply to one of the Justice Department's most popular grant programs, which provides police departments money to buy everything from bulletproof vests to body cameras. The requirements will apply to cities seeking grants starting in September.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.