I've represented HOAs for almost 20 years and while the world has changed during that time and associations have responded to those changes by necessity, I don't think that most associations have gone to the dark side. Instead these associations are struggling to address problems that were not contemplated when they were formed 10, 20 or 30 years ago. They are struggling to address two growing trends in our society -- the victim mentality or the its someone else's problem mentality.
Many association's governing documents are not drafted in such a way as to give the board or the manager the necessary tools to address even the simpliest of issues. To compare an association's authority to that of a rental apartment manager or a campus housing manager is to not understand how associations govern and what authority associations have.
While the HOA Information Office and Resource Center, issued findings about complaints from owners about associations and management companies, that state agency did not track nor report on the positive things that associations do for owners and their communities. See the February 2012 independent survey done by IBOPE Zogby International in which 81% of association residents say they got a "good" or "great" return on their association assessments. And, 73% say their professional community managers provide value and support to residents and the association at large. These aren't statistics that get published. Instead, conflict and dissention make headlines -- not unlike the headlines in our national government.
Instead of more regulation, more legislation and more arbitration, maybe the answers lie in more involvement by owners, more individual responsibility by owners, and more meaningful legislation that addresses the outdated and ineffective documents in communities.