There is a fairly extensive history of San Francisco and other cities around the Bay Area weighing in on world affairs by way of non-binding resolutions — which serve as symbolic flag-plantings for city leaders to express their sympathy, or outrage, on an issue that is far outside their jurisdiction or control.

Some argue that this is important, and that cities with San Francisco's outsize influence should stake such ground in larger debates — and it makes residents, at least those in agreement, feel seen and heard by their local elected officials.

But others, like SF Supervisor Joel Engardio, just see these things as cans of worms that local officials don't have any business getting wrapped up in. The recent and highly contentious vote that the Board of Supervisors took on a resolution supporting a ceasefire in Gaza is the latest example of what Engardio sees as the board wasting time that it should be spending voting on the local stuff they have power over.

“We are a local government in San Francisco. We don’t have the power to control actions of the Israeli Defense Forces, or Hamas, or the U.S. government,” said Supervisor Myrna Melgar said before the January Gaza vote. "The city of San Francisco does not send money to Israel."

But, Melgar added, before voting in favor of the resolution, "We can and must acknowledge the close ties between our community and Palestinians and Israelis and those who profoundly suffer in the Middle East. We must speak up for civilians who are suffering horrific violence and dislocation."

The vote ended up being 8-3 (see the full text of the resolution here), with supervisors Matt Dorsey, Rafael Mandelman, and Catherine Stefani voting against it. Stefani said at the January 9 meeting, "You cannot call for a ceasefire without calling for the surrender and removal of Hamas and the return of all hostages. I don’t know how you have a ceasefire with a terrorist organization who has recently said it would commit October 7 over and over again if it could."

Mayor London Breed would end up denouncing the resolution several days later, at the behest of the mayor of an SF sister city, the Israeli city of Haifa.

"Like my recent predecessors in this office, I almost never comment or take action on non-binding resolutions from the Board of Supervisors. This one warrants an exception," Breed wrote at the time. "What happened at the Board of Supervisors during this last month did not reflect our values. While I support the need for community members to be heard, the process at the Board only inflamed division and hurt."

Breed added, "People verbally attacked and degraded individual members of the public... Many outside San Francisco do not draw the distinction between eight district supervisors and the official view of San Francisco. So let me be clear: what happened at the Board of Supervisors does not speak for or on behalf of the entire city."

On Tuesday, Engardio is proposing new legislation which would, basically, limit the occasions on which the Board should engage in these non-binding resolution votes in the future.

"When the Board considers non-municipal actions that are contentious, it can be difficult for the Board to reach a simple majority on either side... This results in the Board spending time and resources debating an issue outside its direct control," Engardio's legislation says.

Engardio encourages supervisors to express their views through rallies, op-eds, and other means outside of full board meetings. And the legislation says that the board "can support resoutions on non-municipal and non-contentious matters by adopting them" without going through the committee approval process.

Speaking to the SF Standard, Engardio says, "This resolution is forward-looking. l don’t want to relitigate the [Gaza cease-fire] resolution. We live in a tumultuous world. There will be plenty of issues outside of our jurisdiction. It doesn’t ban or preclude us from weighing in on anything. It's just a reminder on what we have control over.”

Supervisor Dorsey is in support, and so are, reportedly, a majority of supes, who would perhaps rather not be taking votes on contentious issues. Dorsey told the Standard he's heard from constituents that "we have problems to solve that are within our control and maybe foreign policy pronouncements [are] not a good use of our time."

Countering that, though, are those who appreciate the Bay Area's history of being outspoken on national and international issues of the day. As Columbia University political science professor Lincoln Mitchell, who lives part time in San Francisco, tells the Standard, "It’s an effort to reframe the city. [As in] 'We’re no longer a city that gets involved in big picture issues,' … I would argue the basics of the city is to be engaged in the rest of the world. This is not some small, little city."

Related: SF Supervisors Approve Gaza Ceasefire Resolution, Mostly Pro-Palestine Audience Goes Bananas Celebrating

Photo of Joel Engardio from his campaign website