This question is a virtual landmine for a realtor to answer, so I will tread very carefully. Most people I encounter at open houses who are coming from Santa Clarita express a preference toward living on the West side of the Antelope Valley, specifically Palmdale and Quartz Hill. One reason is that the public schools overall receive higher overall API scores and online reviews than those on the East side. Some of these same buyers believe there is more crime on the east side. Whether that is true or not, there are neighborhoods on the east side that are just as nice in terms of curb appeal as those on the west side. However, I can't speak to the crime rates of relative areas as I am not in law enforcement.
The best way I know of to determine the desirability of a neighborhood is to 1) see it firsthand 2) talk up a few of the community members if you see them during your showing 3) check with the Sheriff's Dept to get crime stats for the area. In addition, you will be well served to drive through the surrounding area to see what it would be like to go for a walk. This is something I do with any buyer to give them a sense of the area where they could be living, in addition to showing them the house.
Regarding the Vineyards, I have shown a couple homes in this community and the grounds seemed to be well kept. The security gate has always worked properly when I have visited. Beyond that, I would suggest you consider the action items above to give you a firsthand account of life in this area.
Some might say they are better off buying a single family home with no HOA in a quality Palmdale neighborhood (east or west), rather than buying a PUD home and dealing with HOAs. Once again, it all depends on the neighborhood and home that best suit all of your needs.
I hope this information has proven helpful and wish you the best of luck in your home search.