Frank Petrilli

Frank specializes in land use law, entitlement strategy, and environmental compliance under the California Environmental Quality Act.
Frank Petrilli, Associate at Arent Fox

Frank has worked with clients to obtain entitlements and permits for a variety of complex and controversial developments, including office, mixed-use, residential, industrial, and institutional projects. He has also successfully represented both public entities and private developers in litigation at both the trial court level and on appeal, and has substantial experience with ballot initiatives and referenda related to the land use process. The 2017 edition of Legal 500 ranks Frank as a recommended attorney, noting that clients describe Frank as always able to “find solutions to difficult problems.”

Frank’s practice is focused on the San Francisco Bay Area, where he has represented clients such as Facebook, Bohannon Development Company, and LinkedIn.

Client Work

  • Obtained approvals for Facebook’s new headquarters expansion in Menlo Park, including approximately 1 million square feet of office buildings designed by Frank Gehry and a 200-room hotel.
  • Successfully represented LinkedIn in 2015 in a “beauty contest” in Mountain View, in which the City Council awarded LinkedIn with the lion’s share of available development rights in the North Bayshore area.
  • Negotiated several Community Benefits Agreements focusing on affordable housing and community economic development with various non-governmental organizations and the ACLU.
  • Advised Bohannon Development Company on the re-entitlement, permitting, and related issues for the Menlo Gateway Project, an approximately million square foot mixed-use development in Menlo Park.
  • Represented a global technology company in obtaining land use entitlements, CEQA approvals, and negotiating a development agreement for a new state-of-the-art office campus in the Bay Area.
  • Obtained entitlements and advised the developer on land use and CEQA issues for the rehabilitation of several historic buildings on a 65-acre site at Pier 70 in San Francisco.
  • Represented the University of California, San Francisco on a wide range of land use and CEQA matters, including long range planning, as well as the negotiation and documentation of real estate documents and environmental clearances for various projects in San Francisco.
  • Prevented an attempt to halt construction of a $320 million University of California, Berkeley project in litigation presenting complicated scope of relief and severability issues.
  • Represented developer on all land use issues and drafting of legislation in connection with a ballot initiative campaign to amend an area plan.
  • Successfully defended a Supplemental EIR for a large-scale transit project against a challenge raising a number of issues under CEQA, including improper "pre-commitment" by the agency, procedural noncompliance, deferred mitigation, and failure to analyze numerous alleged environmental impacts.
  • Successfully defended the use of a statutory exemption for a large multi-family residential project in a CEQA challenge alleging, among other matters, failure to prepare a Supplemental EIR, failure to follow CEQA's procedures, and failure to conduct new environmental analysis of impacts from greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air contaminants.
  • Successfully defended EIR in a consolidated proceeding presenting a litany of issues under CEQA and the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act. Issues included allegedly inadequate project description, improper delegation, improper segmentation, inadequate analysis of biological, geological, cultural and other impacts and mitigation measures, and inadequate objectives, alternatives and statement of overriding considerations. Subsequently defeated a motion for nearly one million dollars in attorneys’ fees.
  • Represented developer in defending a specific plan and related entitlements for a development involving 5,000 residential units and 3,000,000 sq. ft. of office, retail and commercial space at the trial and appellate court levels.
  • Represented statewide provider of senior housing in obtaining petition for writ of mandate setting aside a city hearing officer’s decision finding multiple zoning violations.

Previous Work

Prior to joining Arent Fox, Frank was an associate in the San Francisco office of a global law firm.

Publications, Presentations & Recognitions

Frank is a Legal 500 recommended and Super Lawyers top rated Land Use & Zoning attorney.

Frank is a media resource on land use and urban issues and has shared insights with publications such as Fortune and Law360. He was also featured in an exclusive interview with American Lawyer Media and in 2017, in which he shared his insights on land use, housing, and transportation challenges facing entitlement efforts for flagship tech company campuses in the Bay Area.

Frank’s publications and presentations include:

  • Panelist, "Autonomus Vehicles and the City: A Symposium and Plans for Liveability," University of San Francisco School of Management (Fall 2017)
  • Guest Lecturer, "Real Estate Litigation," UC Berkeley School of Law (Fall 2017)
  • Guest Lecturer, "Land Use Regulation," UC Berkeley School of Law (Fall 2017)
  • Guest Lecturer, "Land Use Regulation," UC Hastings (Fall 2016)
  • Update Author, “Subdivision Map Act Navigator” (2015)
  • Update Author, “Land Use Litigation,” California Land Use Practice (2012 CEB)

Professional Activities

  • San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR)
  • Bay Area Council
  • Urban Land Institute
  • Industries
  • Bar & Court Admissions
    • California Bar
    • US Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
    • US District Court, Northern District of California
    • US District Court, Eastern District of California
  • Education
    University of California, Los Angeles
    University of California, Santa Cruz