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David, you are certainly right that a person chooses to live in such a place and therefore should know beforehand what is expected, but it seems, based on my self-acknowledged limited experience, that some people just like having the power to say "no".
Isn't that the truth but it sure is sweet when you beat them at their own game. If they apply the rules inconsistently or are too rigid, they will lose. My tactic was to contact my title insurance company and they will provide you "free" legal reprsentation to combat them. Most HOAs are not rich enough to "outspend" you in legal representation if yours is free. At that point, they negotiate more reasonable terms and if you are lucky, like I was, all the power trippers resign and you get a reasonable HOA board to replace them.