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Life at Yerba Buena Island: Good Days with Homeowner Michael Lee

Published April 16, 2024

Join us as we continue our series, “My Life at Yerba Buena Island,” which delves into the lives of those who have made Yerba Buena Island their home. Next, we had the opportunity to interview Michael Lee, an owner at The Bristol, San Francisco’s top-selling new development featuring move-in ready condominiums with breathtaking Bay views.

Michael Lee, Talent Acquisition Senior Director at Electronic Arts, wasn’t looking to buy a new home – until he discovered Yerba Buena Island.


Michael takes us on a journey from his first encounter with a fateful postcard to discovering Yerba Buena Island and the unique factors that led him to call it home. During our insightful conversation, Michael shares his daily experiences, joys, preferred spots on the island, and the profound sense of community he’s found at The Bristol. Read on as we explore Michael’s perfect day on Yerba Buena Island and the magical moments that make living here truly special.


Tell us about you, where you’re from, what you do, and what brought you here.

I’m originally from Atlanta. I lived in various cities in the Netherlands before I moved to San Francisco eight years ago to join Electronic Arts, the company I work for as a Talent Acquisition Senior Director.



How did you find out about Yerba Buena Island?

I received a lot of postcards for different developments around the city. I wasn’t even looking to get a place, so I was going to throw the postcard out for Yerba Buena Island, but it caught my eye, and I was like, “Oh, this is an island. Okay, I’ll look it up.” A lot happened between the receipt of that postcard and my first visit to the island, but once I made my visit, I thought to myself, “I don’t think anything in the Bay Area can top this.” It’s not just the quality of this place but the unique dynamic of nature, the cove, the island, and the ferry. It’s a unique offering I’ve never experienced before.


What key factors influenced your decision when selecting a place to live in San Francisco?

I gave up having a car in 2014. So, I wanted to pick a location that didn’t require me to buy a car again. I like other means of transportation, like walking, taking the ferry, or riding one of my motorcycles.


Could you describe your first impressions of the island? What specific aspects, as you physically experienced them, convinced you that this was the place you wanted to call home?

It had high-quality design and materials, and the view was just beautiful. It was an island, so I thought it’d be cool to be like Mr. Roarke from Fantasy Island.


Also, I’m a city boy. I usually associate an island with being away from the city. I have also lived in the suburbs where there’s nature, but it’s far away from the city, and I didn’t like it. So it’s great if I can have nature within the city, and that’s the benefit of living here. I live on an island in the city.



Are there any places on the island that you frequent?

I really like Mersea on Treasure Island. That’s probably the place I go to most frequently. They have incredible city views, fantastic fish ‘n’ chips, and, honestly, one of the best burgers in the city.


How do you typically navigate the island – is it primarily on foot, or do you often use your motorcycles? What specific aspects or places on the island are you frequently accessing?

When I go to my office, I walk or shuttle down to the ferry. I like to go to the farmers market at the Ferry Building on the weekends, so I’ll take the ferry there.


I also have four motorcycles currently. They all easily fit in my parking spot–I could get seven motorcycles in there if I wanted. Walking around Panorama Park and being on Yerba Buena island is very similar to being on a motorcycle because you get that sense of peace, but you’re not far away from the world. You’re there. You’re not disconnected from the world but centered and grounded in the moment. Riding a motorcycle is like being at Yerba Buena Island, everywhere you go.



I’d like to talk about the natural offerings on the island and hear about the specific spots you enjoy taking advantage of the most.

I like to go down to Clipper Cove. I have regular therapy sessions, and I sometimes take them on the cove. It’s very therapeutic.


Sometimes, I’ll call my dad and hang out at the cove, too. He had a small cottage on a lake in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and that’s another reason why Yerba Buena Island spoke to me – it reminds me of my childhood by the water.


New England towns tend to have a small-town sense of community where you know your neighbors well. Do you feel that you have that at The Bristol?

Definitely, there’s a really strong community here. All the neighbors are super friendly, and we like to hang out with each other. We have a group Telegram and are always looking out for each other. If I leave one of my lights on, I can message a neighbor to turn my light off. One of my neighbors even introduced me to my girlfriend!


How did you get involved in the community here at The Bristol?

I attended some of the building events and the HOA-sponsored events. Everyone is very approachable.


Is the sense of community at The Bristol something you actively sought when choosing a place, or did it surprise you?

I always appreciate a sense of community and an inner neighborhood because that’s how I grew up, but I hadn’t experienced it in about thirteen years. So, I would prefer it, but I wasn’t fully expecting to get it. Also, as a homeowner, I want it more because I feel like that adds to the value.


You spoke about the views being a significant factor in choosing your home – tell us your favorite view on the island.

Infinity Point is pretty amazing because you get that 360-degree view, especially when it’s clear at dusk, the lights are just starting to come on in the city, and hues of orange, purple, and red color the atmosphere.


I also just love the view from my place – I can see the Oakland shipyards, and I am aware of its history. I get the water and the trees surrounding my view. I got Hawks and Falcons circling – it’s quite peaceful. You can see people paddle boarding below. The place is just magical. I also love that I can jump on my motorcycle, and I’m like Batman coming out of his Batcave, and I get on the Bay Bridge heading to San Francisco and can look up to the right and see my unit.



What spaces in The Bristol do you take advantage of the most?

I go to the Fitness Center all the time. It’s curated quite well. I love how the outdoors is integrated with the indoors. I’ll be working out on a bike while looking out at the magnolia tree in the Garden Courtyard; it’s incredible. I love the open-air Lobby; it’s beautiful with the fireplace. I don’t feel like I’m just living in my unit, but I’m living in the entire building. It’s nice having multiple places to exist beyond my own Residence.


There’s so much coming to Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island that I’m sure will only add to your life there. What are you most looking forward to?


I’m looking forward to the grand opening of Panorama Park and meeting the landscape architect, Walter Hood. I like that they’ve incorporated African Americans into the island’s development as well, and we’re leveraging the Japanese art of the sculptor Hiroshi Sugimoto at Infinity Point. It’s just very well thought-out.



Walk us through your perfect day on Yerba Buena Island. What does that look like?

First, my girlfriend and I would come downstairs to the Lobby Lounge, get a coffee, and relax on the couches for a little bit. Then, we’d walk around the island and down the hill to take the ferry to the Embarcadero. There, we’d shop and walk for a while, then come back on the ferry and head to Mersea for something to eat. After that, we’d go to Clipper Cove and chill, then maybe jump on the motorcycle and take it for a ride across the Bay Bridge. We’d head back up to the parks on the island, watch the sunset, have a cocktail, and enjoy the views.


That’s my perfect day here – I feel like I’m Ice Cube in that song “It Was a Good Day.”


Explore move-in ready homes at The Bristol at Yerba Buena Island. Contact our Sales Team today to schedule a tour and discover island living.