The city is known as a family-oriented community with a high quality of life. Palmdale Regional Medical Center, a first class medical facility opened in 2010, includes an emergency department, a helipad, medical office towers, and a senior housing complex. A new multimodal transportation center, serving local and commuter bus and train services, opened in 2005. A voter-initiated and approved tax has funded major park and recreation expansions, including the Palmdale Amphitheater (capacity 10,000), two new pools, other recreation buildings, satellite library and Dry Town Water Park. Downtown revitalization includes hundreds of new senior housing units, a new senior center, and expanded open space. A new 48,000 sq ft (4,500 m2). Sheriff station opened in July 2006, the largest in Los Angeles County. Two additional fire stations have been built, one on the east side and one on the west side.
While Palmdale is still a part of Los Angeles County, the urbanized centers of Palmdale and Los Angeles are separated by the San Gabriel mountain range, which is about 40 miles (64 km) wide. This range forms the southern edge of the Antelope Valley portion of the Mojave Desert. Palmdale is the second largest city in the Antelope Valley, and the fifth largest city overall in the Mojave Desert by population, outstripped only by Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas and Lancaster, California.