Some have argued that Kirkland's strong neighborhoods are its greatest asset. Kirkland's thirteen neighborhoods are watched over by eleven neighborhood associations (North Juanita and South Juanita are represented by the Juanita Neighborhoods Association and South Rose Hill and Bridle Trails are represented by the South Rose Hill/Bridle Trails Neighborhood Association). Individually, these neighborhood associations provide a voice for the residents and help disseminate information locally. As a collective, they take action under the banner of the Kirkland Alliance of Neighborhoods (KAN).
With annexation arriving June 1, 2011, the city is working with annexation residents to determine boundary lines so they can be divided up and represented as neighborhoods. The Planning Commission will recommend the following to the City Council:
- Kingsgate is to remain largely intact with some commercial areas on the southern edge to become a part of the Totem Lake neighborhood;
- Some northern Totem Lake residents become members of Kingsgate;
- Residents in south of Totem Lake will become a part of the North Rose Hill neighborhood;
- The North Juanita annexation area will merge with Kirkland's existing North Juanita neighborhood.
The future of Finn Hill is yet to be determined. The Planning Commission is recommending that Finn Hill residents be given another six months in which to decide their fate: remain one large neighborhood or be divided into two smaller neighborhoods. The city has developed three maps representing the options before the residents of Finn Hill.
The decision about Finn Hill's future is not trivial. In Kirkland, neighborhood associations have a great deal of power. Each neighborhood association is represented by an elected board. The decisions made by the board speak for the residents of the neighborhood. During better economic times, the city would give neighborhood grants on a rotating basis. This grant money would be spent on various projects such as improving parks with new benches or fences, renovating traffic circles or public art.
The city can no longer afford to grant money to the neighborhoods, but the program may be reinstated at some future date.