Concrete block (CMU) is not normally used in California residential home construction. It requires a significant amount of rebar in addition to solid grouting of all of the block cells to resist seismic loads. This makes other alternatives much more cost effective. Most homes and apartments up to 4 stories tall are stick built with stucco or lightweight precast exterior panels. The large wood buildings frequently have steel rods (tie downs) embedded in the walls, cast in the foundation and extending continuously to the roof to keep the building in one piece tied to the foundation during an earthquake.
In commercial construction, projects that call for CMU walls are frequently converted to shotcrete for a more cost effective solution. In shotcrete construction, one side of the wall is formed with steel or wood panels and a high pressure nozzle operator shoots a special concrete mix horizontally onto the form panel to make a wall.
Warehouses are frequently designed with "tilt up" panels instead of CMU or brick which is more common in other parts of the country. In tilt up construction the ground floor concrete slab is first cast, then they pour the concrete walls flat on the floor and tilt them up with a crane. This is common for warehouses 2 to 3 stories tall.