The types of communities that survive downturns: Neighborhoods loaded with elderly people and NIMBys (not in my backyard types).
And being wealthy helps, but that point isn't included in the Economist's profile of what California communities are faring ok in our horribly tough economic times: "In the past year Santa Barbara County has seen a slight increase in employment. The secret to its health? Hostility to development and lack of youth. Nowhere in California is immune to recession, but the oldest areas are proving most resistant. Of the ten counties with the lowest unemployment rates, nine, including Santa Barbara, contain an above-average proportion of people aged 65 or older. Youthful Los Angeles has shed almost a quarter-of-a-million jobs in the past year. Slightly older San Diego has lost a few thousand, while considerably older San Francisco has lost none. A map of the state’s retirees (pictured) could almost double as a map of economic resilience."
While young people defaulted on all those homes in the Inland Empire, places like Santa Barbara benefit from a "stuffy attitude" that curtails development. Additionally, the city's elderly population keep the hospitals busy.