HOA's: California's First Level Of Government
"These private neighborhood associations have become the first level of government for an estimated 50 million Americans, regulating such things as how homes are painted, the condition of lawns and the placement of flowerpots... Some boards act like military regimes, the critics say, issuing judgments based on whim and fining residents for innocuous violations such as owning oversized pets or flying flags without authorization. The flag issue, in particular, has sparked criticism in many private communities after the terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001."
Thanks to Laura Kranz