Rafael Castellanos. File photo

Supervisor candidate and Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos released a $1 billion infrastructure plan for San Diego County that he said would spur construction of tens of thousands affordable homes.

Castellanos said his “Hope & Home” plan would rely on a bond issue to rebuild roads, parks, transit and other local infrastructure in older communities to speed up construction, bring down building costs and make urban development more attractive and efficient than suburban sprawl.

“San Diego’s lack of modern infrastructure is at the root of our affordable housing shortage,” said Castellanos. “It’s why developers build million-dollar sprawl McMansions for the few, instead of affordable starter homes for the many.”

The plan won praise from San Diego’s chief urban planner, SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata, who said, “Rafael’s plan to invest in infrastructure that paves the way to more affordable housing is exactly the kind of comprehensive, forward thinking policy we need to be discussing.”

Affordable housing policies typically offer developers subsidies to build below the market rate. Castellanos said his plan would create Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts and leverage the new federal opportunity zone structure as tools to encourage long-term community investment.

“Instead of putting subsidies in developers’ pockets, my affordable housing plan invests in modern infrastructure in San Diego communities to spur construction of tens of thousands of affordable units for everyone, not just a handful of apartments for special populations.” said Castellanos. “It’s a comprehensive approach, not a band-aid.”

Castellanos, a Democrat, is a candidate for the District 1 seat now held by Greg Cox, who is termed out after more than 25 years. Also running are state Sen. Ben Hueso, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest Vice President of Community and Government Relations Nora Vargas; and county Health and Human Services Agency Human Services Specialist Sophia Rodriguez.

The district includes portions of southern San Diego and the cities of Chula Vista, Coronado and National City.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.