Given the elevation and snow I'm surprised South Lake Tahoe only requires 18" footings. Given the cold temperatures I would have expected a lot deeper footings would be required. We have expansive clay here in NC, our footings in the Piedmont section of the state are only 18", we're pretty mild temperature wise here with waterlines only buried a foot or so. Long freezes are rare here. Out in the mountains in western NC footings need to be deeper. Basements are rare here due to the heavy, expansive clay soils. I have one, but in my 21 year old neighborhood probably less than 10% of the homes have basements, many have "crawlspaces that are nearly high enough for a basement due to the topography of our area.Sparkey 617, In CA the most important factor in footing design is expansive clay content of soil. Frost depth would exceed normal footing depths only at high elevations. South Lake Tahoe requires exterior footing be minimum 18" deep due to frost - which is minimum Building Code depth unless designed by an engineer.
As to the politics, not really see much on this thread. Some general kvetching about local governments but not really political.