Fewer California homeowners faced losing their homes to foreclosure during the first quarter of this year than at any time since 1992, a real estate information service reported. Lending institutions started foreclosure proceedings on 26,694 California homeowners during the first three months of this year. That was down 27.3% from 36,699 in the first quarter of 1998, according to Acxiom/DataQuick. Despite a minor uptick in foreclosures in March, last quarter's number was the lowest since the first quarter of 1992, when 18,806 default notices were recorded. Foreclosure proceedings in Southern California dropped 31.8%, the steepest decline since Acxiom/DataQuick began keeping records in 1992. In Los Angeles County, lenders filed 33.6% fewer notices of default in the first quarter of 1999 than in the same period in 1998. In Orange County the number dropped 38.7%, and Ventura County saw 34.6% fewer default notices. Riverside and San Bernardino experienced declines of 30.3% and 22.1%, respectively. In San Diego, foreclosure activity dropped 35.4%.