When snowboarding in various countries in Europe, I've encountered many different types of chair lifts. Some would have wind screens that can pull up/down, some heated seats, but at a minimum they all would have a foot rest. Even in less developed places on old chairs, there would be a footrest.
When riding between Kirkwood, Heavenly and Northstar I can think of only two chairs with foot rests - one on the backside of Kirkwood, and another one on that remote part of Northstar. I can't remember any from Squaw or Sierra, nor Sugarbowl and boreal where i've been a couple of times.
A lift ticket in one of these resorts can cost up to $150 for a day pass. A lift ticket in Trois Valles in France is $60.
Why this discrepancy?
I thought for the most part it's some kind of a liability thing, if the footrest were to be caught somewhere, one could sue the resort? This would perhaps explain that they can be encountered, but further away where lifts access more challenging terrain.
That it's some kind of a deterrent also crossed my mind, perhaps it's easier to sit in a chair with no footrest when you're on skis.
It could be a simple supply and demand thing. Skiers in California / USA don't want it - it's expensive for the resorts to install. But why would anyone prefer not to have it?