Andrew Willis
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Eyes on the coast

Call him the lone enforcer. Andrew Willis is the only California Coastal Commission official patrolling for illegal development and habitat destruction from Pacific Palisades to San Clemente. Here, he takes a photo at Semeniuk Slough, near Newport Shores Park in Newport Beach, while looking into how docks, decks and residential encroachment are affecting the habitat. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
“There’s a lot of people and a lot of coast. A lot of homes being built,” says Andrew Willis. “But I’m just one person for that area, and I can’t protect everything.” (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Andrew Willis stops to check out a report of illegal dumping near the Bolsa Chica wetlands in Huntington Beach, where neighbors said they witnessed oil company crews piling dirt on a slope. The Coastal Commission inspector carries no ticket book, gun or baton. He wears no uniform, opting instead for short-sleeved, surf-brand shirts and jeans or shorts. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Andrew Willis’ detective work is sometimes interrupted by his own passions — bird sightings and plant identifications. He goes into the field with a bird book stuffed in the back pocket of his jeans and a digital camera and pair of binoculars slung around his neck. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
When Andrew Willis is in the field, it feels worlds away from the 10th floor of his office building in downtown Long Beach, where he sits at a desk with views of an eternally lighted flame from an oil refinery and the sprawling port. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)