Professional Biography

Cecily T. Barclay Partner

  • San Francisco

    D +1.415.344.7117

    F +1.415.344.7050

    San Francisco

    505 Howard Street, Suite 1000

    San Francisco, CA 94105-3204




Cecily Barclay focuses her practice on land use and entitlements, real estate acquisition and development, and local government law. She regularly assists landowners, developers, and public agencies throughout California in all aspects of acquisition, entitlement, and development of land, including land use application processing, drafting and negotiating purchase and sale agreements, negotiating and securing the approval of development agreements, general plan amendments, specific plans, planned development zoning, annexations, initiatives and referenda, and tentative and final subdivision maps. Cecily’s current projects include redevelopment of land for market rate and affordable housing, life science campuses, hotels and resorts, and transit-oriented mixed-use development projects.

Cecily has significant experience in processing entitlements for redevelopment and expansion of regional retail centers, resort hotels, and entertainment centers, Biotech/R&D campuses, large mixed-use master-planned communities, and multi-faceted reuse of former military facilities and other infill development sites. Her work extensively involves advising on land use initiatives, negotiating school fee mitigation agreements, preparing conservation easements to mitigate for loss of biological resources, and drafting affordable housing programs, Williamson Act contracts, and related issues pertaining to agricultural properties. She assists local agencies in drafting ordinances relating to updating general plans and housing elements, planned development zoning, specific plans, mitigation fees, affordable housing, and growth management. Cecily’s practice also focuses on how agencies and developers can apply state housing laws, particularly anti-NIMBY (Housing Accountability Act) and density bonus laws.

Cecily is a lead author of Curtin’s California Land Use and Planning Law, a well-known publication which definitively summarizes the major provisions of California’s land use and planning laws. Cecily also co-authored Development by Agreement, an ABA publication providing a national analysis of laws and practices concerning various forms of development agreements. She regularly speaks and writes on topics involving land use and local government law, including programs and articles for the American Bar Association, American Planning Association, California Continuing Education of the Bar, League of California Cities, University of California Extension programs, Urban Land Institute, and other state and national associations and conferences.

For over a decade, Cecily served as the president of two nonprofit affordable housing corporations in Oakland and currently serves on the ABA state and local government section’s Publications Oversight Board.

Representative Experience

  • Representing Great Wolf Resorts in securing a public-private partnership to build a 500+ room hotel and associated indoor water park and entertainment facilities to serve Northern California families
  • Representing Macerich Northwestern Associates in securing local, state, and federal approvals of a master plan for redevelopment and expansion of Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, an outdoor 1.1 million square foot shopping center
  • Representing BioMed Realty in securing redevelopment approvals for several Bay Area biomedical and R&D office campuses, totaling more than 2 million square feet
  • Securing development approvals for Lennar Urban to redevelop Candlestick Point and Hunters Point, one of the most significant redevelopment projects in San Francisco’s history, for 10,500 residential units and several million square feet of office and retail uses along San Francisco’s waterfront
  • Representing Corte Madera Village in securing development approvals for a new Restoration Hardware (RH) Design Gallery in Corte Madera
  • Representing in conducting due diligence and processing land use approvals to support sales and delivery operations
  • Representing Hall Equities Group in securing approvals for a mixed-use redevelopment project, “Saranap Village”, in Contra Costa County
  • Representing various landowners and developers in developing initiative strategies to secure development approvals in light of local municipal requirements and/or anticipated referenda
  • Representing the landowner and seller in securing reuse rights for a Google office campus at the former Hewlett Packard headquarters in Mountain View
  • Representing numerous other developers and redevelopers of office, R & D and industrial campuses through the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Representing landowners and developers in securing development rights to subdivide and build single family residences and communities
  • Representing a landowner in processing a proposal for a 1,950 acre wildlife preserve and a 200 acre rural residential development in Santa Clara County
  • Representing numerous developers in securing mixed use redevelopment entitlements in established urban communities
  • Assisting a national sports ownership group in efforts to secure new stadium development rights
  • Testifying as a land use expert in numerous California land use disputes

Other engagements include numerous redevelopment and new development projects in San Jose, Santa Clara, Belmont, Walnut Creek, Alameda and Oakland. Prior representative engagements include the City of Alameda in developing a long-term development and disposition strategy for Alameda Naval Air Station, Chateau Montelena in Calistoga in securing water rights, Cirque du Soleil in Santa Monica (California Coastal Commission permit); Central Train Station and Leona Quarry projects in Oakland; the Rivermark Master Planned Community in Santa Clara; the University District Specific Plan Area in Rohnert Park; Waterfront District project in Hercules; Faria Ranch Specific Plan in San Ramon; Laguna Vista project in Sebastopol; Westfield Master Plan and Thomas Ranch Specific Plan in Gilroy; Aviano project in Antioch; the Alamo Creek, Dougherty Valley and Cecchini Ranch developments in Contra Costa County as well as other residential, mixed-use and commercial projects throughout Northern California.

Ranked by Chambers USA and Best Lawyers

Named “Energy Law Lawyer of the Year” by The Best Lawyers in America, 2021
Ranked by Chambers USA 19 Years in a Row

California Land Use and Development Report image

Legal Commentary on Planning and Development

Insights into legal issues relating to development and use of land and federal, state and local permitting and approval processes.


Professional Recognition

  • Listed in Lawdragon 500 Leading U.S. Environmental Lawyers, 2024 
  • Ranked by Chambers USA: "America’s Leading Lawyers" for Business, 2006-2010; "America’s Leading Lawyers" for Real Estate2011-2024
  • Received the "Readers’ Choice Award," JD Supra: Thought Leadership in Construction Law, 2021 

  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America: Energy Law; Environmental Law; Land Use and Zoning Law; Real Estate Law, 2007-2024
  • Selected as "Leading Lawyer," Legal 500 US, California North: Land Use and Zoning, 2009, 2014
  • Recommended by The Legal 500: Industry Focus:  Real Estate and construction: Land use/zoning, 2015
  • Listed in the Daily Journal's Top Women Lawyers, 2016
  • Listed in Super Lawyers, Northern California, 2004-2020, 2024
  • Named San Francisco Land Use & Zoning Law Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers, 2012
  • Honoree for Northern California Real Estate Women and Influence, 2011
  • Selected as "Top East Bay Land Use Attorney," East Bay Business Times, 2006-2008

Professional Leadership

  • American Bar Association, Publications Oversight Board, 2009-2018
  • American Bar Association 
  • San Francisco Bar Association 
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association 
  • Urban Land Institute 
  • American Planning Association

Related Employment

  • Bingham McCutchen LLP, San Francisco, CA, Associate, Counsel, and Partner, 1990-2011





Bar and Court Admissions

  • California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California


  • Harvard Law School, J.D., with honors, 1988
  • University of California, Berkeley, B.A., with highest honors, 1983