Say you are in a group of people, and your performance is graded based upon the entire group's performance. Let's say this is a troupe of actors. You can act, most of the other people can act, but one person cannot act worth a dime. They can never remember their lines, have a monotone voice, and just stand like a statue on stage, poorly delivering what few lines they can remember.
That one person has ruined your entire performance.
Now - put that in the sense of a neighborhood. The entire neighborhood has houses and lawns that are kept up and beautiful. Except for one. The lawn is rarely mowed, the fence is falling down, the paint is faded or the siding falling off. There are trashy cars in the driveway, half of which don't even run.
That one house has blemished that entire neighborhood.
HOA's are good for the fact that they do help neighborhoods keep property values. However, I do feel they have gone too far into forcing everything to be cookie cutter and exactly the same. If I want a purple door, by gosh I'm going to have a purple door. But being the person that I am, I will make sure that the door is not too gaudy of a purple and that it flows with the rest of my house. However, there are people out there who aren't like that, and could care less. Which is where the homeowner's association steps in.
I do feel they should have taken the service member and his wife to small claim's court instead of foreclosing on their house. To me, that is being just a bit too catty and trivial. I understand why the fees are in place, but I also understand her situation (as I've seen it happen to many military wives while their husbands are deployed) and feel that as human beings, the HOA should have tried to do more than just send her letters. She probably could have used the knock on her door and a face asking her if everything was okay during that time. Who knows, had someone from the HOA gone over there and tried to see what was wrong and figured out why the dues weren't being paid, this situation may have never occurred.
So while I agree that HOA's do have a good purpose, I believe in many cases they have been taken entirely too far and have rules just for the sake of having rules. Where I live currently doesn't have an HOA, but since we are a historical neighborhood, we have to deal with the city when it comes to making improvements to our house. In all honestly, I feel the city is easier to deal with.