Residential is the predominant land use in Kirkland. Over 75 percent of the City’s land area is zoned for housing. This includes single family homes as well as multifamily apartments and condominiums. In addition, there has been an increase in mixed-use developments in the City's business districts in the last 15 years. Mixed use developments combine multifamily housing with other uses, such as offices and retail stores. Even as a high percentage of land is available for housing, demand for more housing outweighs the supply. This increases the cost of housing.
Kirkland’s Comprehensive Plan is the blueprint for how the City will grow over the next 20 years. Each element, including the Housing Element, includes specific goals and policies to guide the growth. The following ideas are central to the City’s Housing Element:
- Promote neighborhood quality and encourage compatibility between existing uses and infill development.
- Promote an adequate supply and variety of housing to meet the community’s growing needs.
- Encourage diversity by promoting housing that is affordable at every income level.
- Track progress toward meeting housing goals. Add new or adjust existing strategies to ensure progress.
Housing Strategy Plan
In 2017, the City Council appointed a Housing Strategy Advisory Group to develop a Housing Strategy Plan. A Housing Strategy Plan identifies a variety of changes the City can make over time to realize its housing goals and policies. Stakeholders from throughout the community were on the Housing Strategy Advisory Group.
The Housing Strategy Advisory Group presented their Housing Strategy Plan(PDF, 11MB) to the City Council on May 1, 2018. The City Council adopted the Housing Strategy Work Program for 2018-2020 (Resolution-5313(PDF, 2MB)) . Work on the individual strategies is included in the Planning Work Program each year.
Kirkland strives to make a variety of housing styles available throughout the city. Variety will provide more housing within the fabric of our neighborhoods. It will use existing infrastructure and create different housing sizes to satisfy different people’s needs. Explore details of housing choice options available in Kirkland.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) offer a unique housing opportunity. ADUs align with Kirkland’s community goals of:
- Preserving neighborhood character,
Increasing housing affordability,
Creating a wider range of housing options,
Enabling seniors to stay near family, and
- Using existing housing within our neighborhoods.
Learn more about ADUs...
Cottage housing provides smaller and often more affordable housing choices in residential neighborhoods. Allowing a variety of housing types also encourages creative housing and site design. Kirkland Zoning Code Chapter 113 has rules for Cottage homes*. These regulations help ensure compatibility with surrounding residential uses.
* Note that there are different cottage housing regulations within the Houghton jurisdiction
Duplexes and Triplexes
Duplex and triplex housing provides another housing choice in residential neighborhoods. Kirkland Zoning Code Chapter 113 has rules for duplex and triplex homes*. These regulations help ensure compatibility with surrounding residential uses.
* Note that there are different duplex and triplex regulations within the Houghton jurisdiction
Residential suites are small single room units where residents share bathroom and/or kitchen space. This housing type helps to diversify Kirkland's housing stock and provide another affordable housing choice. Check the property's zoning to see if this use is allowed.
Many local and regional efforts exist to increase the supply of affordable housing. Learn more about affordable housing and how Kirkland participates in those efforts. Housing is considered affordable when all housing costs are no more than 30% of a households income. For rental units, this includes rent and utilities. For units that are owned, it includes mortgage, insurance, utilities, taxes, and all homeowner’s dues. When people spend more of their income on housing, they have less money available to spend on food, transportation, health care, savings and other needs. Most affordable housing programs assist people who earn 80% or less of the King County median income.
The City of Kirkland is a founding member of A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH). ARCH is an organization created in 1993 by Eastside cities and King County. Its purpose is to preserve and increase the supply of housing for low- and moderate-income households throughout East King County.
The ARCH website includes resources for renters, purchasers, residents, and developers of affordable housing. It contains links to lists of affordable apartments, as well as affordable homes that are for sale.
ARCH also manages an annual Housing Trust Fund award process. They distribute money donated by its members to affordable housing developers. The developers use the funds to preserve existing and build new affordable housing.
Since 2010, Kirkland has required new multifamily and mixed-use developments to include affordable housing units. Regulations apply in most of the City and are in Chapter 112 of the Kirkland Zoning Code. The standard requirement is that 10% of the units be affordable.
The City has also adopted Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) regulations. Tax exemptions can be granted for projects that include 10% to 20% of the units as affordable housing. Requirements are in Chapter 5.88 of the Kirkland Municipal Code.