Also, if you see homeowners out and about, stop, introduce yourself, tell them you are looking to buy in the area and ask them what's it like living there? I have done this and they are very friendly and helpful.
If you are investing, always look to buy properties in areas where there are current and future development plans by the city. Look for economic factors that will drive growth in the areas: current employers, tax credits available for developers/builders, etc.
Palmdale Strategic Plan: http://www.cityofpalmdale.org/city_hall/strategic_plan/Strat
City of Palmdale: http://www.cityofpalmdale.org/
Phone: (888) 525-0125