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Life at Yerba Buena Island: From Sunrise to Sunset with Sumeetha Jacob

Published October 18, 2023

Our new series, “My Life at Yerba Buena Island,” delves into the lives of those who have made Yerba Buena Island their home. Join us as we interview Sumeetha Jacob, one of the first homeowners at The Bristol.

Sumeetha Jacob ​​didn’t think her life could get any better — and then she discovered Yerba Buena Island.

For Sumeetha Jacob, life in the East Bay was rewarding but hectic. Her demanding role at a top tech company kept her schedule packed, even if it was gratifying work. Effects of the pandemic led Sumeetha to seek more out of a home–she sought somewhere she could be immersed in nature and connected to the city, where she could catch her cherished sunset views and conveniently access her favorite farmers market. When she discovered Yerba Buena Island, Sumeetha found a residential experience that added new dimensions to her busy life. Captivated by the island’s natural serenity and urban convenience, she became one of the first residents of The Bristol in 2022. See how Sumeetha found a home and community at Yerba Buena Island.


YBI: Take us on the journey that led you to Yerba Buena Island and The Bristol. What drew you to make this your home?

Sumeetha Jacob: In August of 2021, I needed a change of scenery. So I drove up to Yerba Buena Island, I parked, I stepped out, and I was blown away because the views were absolutely stunning. And I’m a nature person, I love going on hikes and walks–it just makes me happy. I just felt this was the perfect match that I didn’t know I wanted. The location is what actually drew me there…it’s just unlike anything else. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Oakland Port, the ships & sailboats, city skyline, and the water are absolutely wonderful.


When you envisioned your dream space, what were the non-negotiables?

SJ: I wanted high ceilings, a lot of light, a well-lit unit, and floor-to-ceiling windows. I wanted all the amenities and a roof deck. The Bristol just happened to have everything–I actually have more than what I asked for.


You sought both city convenience and natural serenity – how does Yerba Buena Island deliver the best of both worlds?

SJ: Every day is just beautiful on the island. I love sunrises and sunsets–it’s just absolutely stunning here. People go somewhere to experience that when they’re on vacation, and I get to do that every day. And when I have to go to work downtown, I would just catch the ferry and then just walk or take the metro to my office, it’s so close. I also have easy access to so many great restaurants, local attractions and cool events in the area.


How does living at Yerba Buena Island allow you to be connected to the city while enjoying island life?

SJ: I like the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building on Saturdays. I’ll go to a yoga class on-site at the Bristol, and right after our class, take the shuttle, hop on the ferry, and go to the farmers market with neighbors sometimes and get what we need. So everything that you need is within reach. You have city or downtown life right there.


There are some stories and myths about island living. Anything you’d like to set straight?

SJ: Some of my friends said, “You’re going to be isolated.” Well, it’s exactly the opposite. I have a great community here and I can get to a grocery store sooner than you can get to your grocery store because it’s less than 10 minutes to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and there’s also a grocery on the island. It’s very convenient, and if I wanted to go into Downtown Berkeley, Emeryville, or Oakland, they’re all 10-12 minutes away.


Walk us through your perfect day on the island.

SJ: Every day is different, which I like because it’s more fun and exciting. I would wake up and catch the sunrise, go down to the lobby to grab a coffee and talk with the amazing staff and neighbors, get on the shuttle, and take the ferry to the Ferry Building. I absolutely love taking the ferry at night, after sunset, when it’s all dark and the city lights are on. Then, when I get back, I like to go to yoga in the evening or go on a sunset walk if I get home before it’s dark.


Community is everything. Tell us about the connections you’ve made here.

SJ: I have wonderful neighbors, and there’s such a nice staff. I didn’t expect it. We have happy hours twice a month and a game night once a month. Everyone is just so friendly; it really adds to my quality of life. It’s a very healthy, very fun environment to be in.


Are there any standout events that you’ve loved during your time here?

SJ: It’s hard to pick one because there are so many beautiful memories that I’ve had, but I’m grateful for yoga. I’m really busy with work, so the on-site classes helped me. It’s something that I look forward to because that also means I get to see the instructor, see the neighbors and hang out with them. There was also an event where they took all the residents up to Point of Infinity. You get a 360 view of the Bay Area, which is absolutely stunning. The Annual Fleet week event where the residents are invited to watch the Blue Angels Air Show is my favorite event so far. Not only do I not have to fight traffic, I get to enjoy food and drinks in the company of my friendly neighbors – without leaving the comforts of the island.


How does being immersed in nature add to your daily life?

SJ: I like to take a walk around the trails or go to the beach. I love how calm and serene it is. There are benches all around, and I can just go and spend hours sitting there. I cannot believe we’re in the Bay Area–like the beach, the mountains, the trails. There are times when I’m done with a stressful meeting, I’m tired, and I look out the window at the water, and it just calms me down. So it’s really nice to have this environment around me.


What’s your favorite place on the island to find that sense of calm or serenity?

It’s gorgeous all around. If asked to pick a favorite place, I would say it’s a tie between The Infinity Point Park at golden hour and Clipper Cove beach. Just walking around those trails. I also like riding my bike along the bridge from the island to Emeryville Marina. That is a really beautiful bike ride.


Design speaks. What about The Bristol’s design spoke to you?

You can tell a lot of thought has gone into every detail in the homes and community spaces. I also really like the lobby; it’s absolutely beautiful. I like spending time down there when I’m not too busy at work and enjoy the space.


Food nourishes the soul. Any places around here that do just that for you?

I really love the food at Aracely Cafe. They have a great croissant French toast. I love the water views from Mersea, and the food there is absolutely wonderful as well. There are hidden gems all over, too, like Mateo’s Hot Dog stand or the little deli inside Island Cove Market.

Sometimes, if I’m out on a walk and feel hungry, I’ll just hop on the ferry and challenge myself to grab food before the next ferry departs. It’s easy to do in 10 minutes on weeknights when the Ferry Building is less crowded, but I usually order ahead on the weekends. Two of my favorite spots over there are Cholita Linda and El Porteno Empanadas.


When friends lean in and ask about your life here, what’s the story you share?

I didn’t think my life could get any better, and then I discovered Yerba Buena Island. It’s just great to live where you have access to nature and everything the city has to offer. I think it’s such a rare opportunity to have this tranquil island life just 10 minutes from downtown San Francisco. Where else can you get that?


Describe your life at Yerba Buena Island in less than 5 words:

Picturesque, stunning, spectacular, unique.