Look to nature. Have a look at uncultivated areas with similar soil types. The plants that are growing naturally will certainly grow when cultivated.
Eg. If you live in a desert, cactus will grow well.
There are several other options available depending on how much effort/money you want to invest:
Water more often. Like Ambo100 said, sandy soil will drain faster. Watering will keep it moist and allow a greater number of plants to grow and flourish.
Mulch the area. This site has a huge number of questions on mulch like here, here and here. This will help the soil retain water. Mulching or composting is great for the environment too.
Use a sand converter. I live in a sandy area of Australia, similar to California. My local garden supplier stocks a product called "Sand to Soil" (Bentonite Clay). I didn't believe my retailer when they said "It changes the chemical composition of sand, making soil". But it does actually work. I would use the word "miracle"...
I highly recommend option 3. I did it a few weeks ago and the results are amazing.