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HOAs are established to enforce the CC&Rs of the community (condo, gated community, etc.). The powers of the HOA are found in the by-laws that establish the organization. These documents should be filed by the developer with the other land documents in the county clerk's office.
I strongly suggest you get the by-laws and read them carefully. Also, it's a good idea to attend the Board meetings so you can see first hand what's going on.
You aren't the only one who thinks the HOAs goes beyond what you think is appropriate. Here's link for you to read about problems associated with HOAs:
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Best of luck to you.
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