Yeah - HOAs are really, really frustrating, in my experience. Luckily, when my husband and I bought a house, our neighborhood had a "voluntary" HOA and we simply chose not to join. They do some good, yes - for example, my parents have some neighbors that would never mow their lawn if it wasn't for the fines that they got for having foot-tall grass - but overall I believe they have far too much power and focus on things that are not at all important. And the fact that homes can be foreclosed upon for not paying HOA dues, in some states, is just mind-boggling to me.
This is perhaps another reason that people have the perception that line drying = poor in some parts of the USA - poorer neighborhoods generally don't have HOAs, and are thus more likely to have visible clotheslines.