Staff Directory 396828811

Miguel Otárola

Reporter | Minneapolis City Hall
Phone: 612-673-4753
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: Spanish

Miguel Otárola is a reporter covering Minneapolis City Hall for the Star Tribune. He previously covered Minneapolis' western suburbs and breaking news. He also writes about immigration and music on occasion.


Otárola moved to Minneapolis in 2016. Born in Chile and raised in Arizona, he graduated with a master's in communication from Arizona State University. He is obsessed with music, listening to and reading about music from across the spectrum, digging at local record stores and writing a music newsletter. He is the proud caretaker of a black cat named James Blake.
Recent content from Miguel Otárola
Hiawatha Golf Club in south Minneapolis.As part of the Park Board's 2020 budget, Superintendent Al Bangoura pointed out the need to reevaluate the Par

Minneapolis parks budget seeks service cuts, new fees in order to boost youth programming funding

The Park Board's 2020 budget reflects "constraints of the maximum tax levy" set by the city Board of Estimate and Taxation, Superintendent Al Bangoura said.
President Donald Trump addresses his supporters during a campaign rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.

Final cost for Trump's rally will take weeks to determine, Minneapolis officials say

The city is working with Target Center on how to recover those costs.
President Trump addressed his supporters including Cops for Trump led by Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis.

Minneapolis mayor unsurprised by Trump's 'bad mayor' comment

Trump vilified Jacob Frey while embracing Lt. Bob Kroll, the leader of the city's police union.
Minneapolis police officers on bikes dealt with traffic outside Target Center on Wednesday, a day before President Donald Trump's rally there.

Target Center manager won't cover city's costs for Trump rally

According to city records, AEG says that would be a campaign contribution. Minneapolis officials say they are still talking with the firm.
A group of about 30 pro Trump supporters gathered for a rallying at noon Wednesday outside Mayor Jacob Frey's office in City Hall, to show "how disple

Frey, Trump campaign both say they won't pay extra for security

The city says it will cost $530,000 to host the president's rally Thursday at Target Center. Trump's campaign said it has reached an agreement with the rally venue operator and won't pay anything extra.
Although overall crime in Minneapolis is down long term, violent robberies and assaults downtown this summer put business leaders on high alert.

Detention sought for young repeat Minneapolis offenders

Policy change meant to address Mpls. crime wave.
Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame said his proposed Africa Village mall would add to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. ] CARLOS GONZALEZ �

Despite vocal opposition, plans move ahead for Somali mall

Council Member Abdi Warsame says the Africa Village mall could include a clinic, housing, a space for youth programming and more. Critics say his efforts to build the center in the Cedar-Riverside area is a political maneuver.
Commerce leaders say the increased crime in downtown Minneapolis has driven customers away from the area.

Business leaders call for more police in downtown Minneapolis

City Council Member Lisa Goodman joined them and said she would like to hire more officers and rethink other policies to improve safety in the area.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, shown in April delivering his second State of the City address.

Minneapolis tax board approves 6.95 percent levy increase against Park Board's wishes

Total skips parks request for $1.5 million more for youth programming.
Northern Metal Recycling will shut down its metal shredding facility in north Minneapolis after admitting to altering and improperly recording polluti

North Minneapolis metal shredder closes over altered pollution readings

Northern Metals admits altering pollution readings, closes facility.
Tenants and their supporters marched to Our Lady of Peace Church in south Minneapolis on July 14 to oppose the efforts by landlord Stephen Frenz to ev

Minneapolis studies Washington, D.C., as it seeks rights for tenants to buy their buildings

City Council considering a similar law to protect renters from eviction.
Mayor Jacob Frey and other city and Hennepin County outlined the bail alternative program Wednesday outside All Square in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis seeks alternative to cash bail for low-level crimes

Mayor Jacob Frey's $75,000 proposal would pair defendants with social workers.
Traffic moved along Hennepin Avenue near W. 24th Street during an evening commute.

Minneapolis considers lower speed limits citywide

It's one of several strategies the city is considering to eliminate deaths and serious injuries from crashes.
In his budget address last month, Mayor Jacob Frey recommended increasing the Park Board’s property tax levy by 5.7% to $69.5 million.

Minneapolis mayor offers boost for parks, but leaders say, 'We need more'

Higher levy sought for youth programs; issue now goes to taxation board vote on Sept. 25.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, right, and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. At Thursday’s budget committee meeting, Arradondo outlined how new officers

Minneapolis City Council warms to request for more police officers

Mayor Jacob Frey wants 14 new officers; some council members now call for even more.

Northeast Minneapolis neighbors fight off new apartments on popular street

The mixed-use building won't be built on 13th Avenue NE.
Dani Tietjen, left, joined other Folwell residents to make changes in the neighborhood association, including more outreach.

Neighborhood group pushing back on more Mpls. control

Residents in the revived Folwell neighborhood association want to show city officials that the groups can rebuild themselves from the ground up –without municipal oversight.
Devaughn Barnes, 18, dipped his toes into the water at Lake Nokomis Beach while on a school field trip Friday.

Lake Nokomis beaches reopen after 73 confirmed cases of E. coli illness

A park commissioner says action should be taken to avoid similar closures next year.
Opponents of the proposed market chanted "We are not for sale" and "people over profits" on Friday night.

Protesters shut down Mpls. meeting over African market in Cedar-Riverside

Mayor Jacob Frey and Council Member Abdi Warsame left shortly after arriving.
Rich Mickschl of H+U Construction gave a tour Wednesday of the mill ruins that will become part of the Water Works project.

Crews unearth riverfront history as part of Water Works project in Mpls.

Downtown Minneapolis plaza will reflect recent, ancient past.
Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon, pictured in 2015. Gordon said that “just to see the fossil fuel emissions go up at all is discouraging.�

Minneapolis needs to make drastic cuts to natural gas emissions

Boosting building efficiency could be one way to trim natural gas use.
Twin Cities mayors Jacob Frey, of Minneapolis, and Melvin Carter, of St. Paul, watched the Twins play whiffle ball Tuesday on Nicollet Mall in July.

Mpls., St. Paul can commiserate on one shared burden: annual property tax hikes

As the cost of running a city rises, so too must property taxes, city leaders say — despite billions of dollars in new development in the core of the Twin Cities.
Minneapolis City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, left, congratulated Ramona Falls, center, and Jayne Swift of the Sex Worker Outreach Project afte

Minneapolis City Council approves new rules to protect sex workers

Goal is better working conditions in strip clubs after damning U report.
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) workers install new placards changing East and West Lake Calhoun Parkways to East and West Bde Maka Ska P

Minneapolis Park Board renames Calhoun parkways after Bde Maka Ska

Commissioners see the change as a small way to do undo institutional racism and teach residents about the land's indigenous history.
Lake Nokomis Beach was closed due to high bacteria levels on Aug. 13.

Illness cases at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis grow to 69

Only six of the 12 public beaches in Minneapolis remain open.
The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis is one of six proposed cultural districts, along with W. Broadway in north Minneapolis, Central Avenue

Mpls. hopes 'cultural districts' can become destinations

Mayor Jacob Frey and some council members are calling for an infusion of city spending to clean up litter, improve lighting and spruce up building facades.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey proposed adding 14 new police officers during his annual budget address Thursday, far fewer than what the city's police c

Minneapolis mayor requests 14 more cops in next budget

Mayor Jacob Frey is also asking for a nearly 7 percent increase in the property tax levy.
Wendy Butter made her way toward the Lake Nokomis beach on a paddle board hoping not to fall in on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

E. coli leads to record number of beach closures in Minneapolis

An overwhelming amount of rain — and one potentially sick swimmer — has led to a summer ruined by the bacteria.
Meg Forney

Minneapolis park commissioner's bid to preserve W. Calhoun neighborhood reignites density debate

Supporters say the designation will protect neighborhood character.
Humberto Miceli, left, and his friend and translator, Israel Aranda, testified in July before the Minneapolis City Council about Miceli's experiences

Mpls. Council unanimously OKs ordinance to curb wage theft

The city's new ordinance complements a state law considered one of the strictest in nation.
Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender, surrounded by renters and tenant advocates, spoke Thursday about a proposed ordinance limiting screeni

Minneapolis leaders push for limits on tenant screening

Landlords' association has criticized restrictions on background checks, other curbs on screening.
A 2016 trash cleanup at Lake Hiawatha Park in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Park Board seeks to ban single-use plastics at park events

"It's a small part of a larger vision around sustainability ... but it's something we can all have an impact on," Commissioner Jono Cowgill said.
Yohannes Zemedhin, co-owner of the Red Sea restaurant, said he is concerned about the loss of existing business parking space and fearful a new mall c

Plans for African market in Minneapolis' Cedar-Riverside not welcomed by all

Some merchants say the city should deal with crime, not eliminate parking.
Cars idled while sitting in the drive-thru lane at McDonald's on W. Broadway in Minneapolis.

Mpls. Council committee votes to ban new drive-through facilities

Minneapolis could be the first of its size to take such action, city planners say.
The Northern Metal Recycling metal shredder building, located on the Mississippi River just south of the Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis.

Judge's ruling gives north Minneapolis metal shredder more time

Facility had been ordered to close Aug. 1 because of air pollution concerns.
A fire in May destroyed the pavilion on the northeast side of Bde Maka Ska/Lake Calhoun; it also sped up the timeline for park officials to redesign t

Mpls. Park Board chief wants to move faster on burned pavilion site

Brad Bourn said the projected wait to reopen the site occupied by the Lola on the Lak was "unacceptably long."
Dead fish on the surface of Lake Harriet in 2010. Thousands of dead fish have floated to the surface along the shores of the Chain of Lakes in Minneap

'Summer kill' of fish leaves a stinking mess in Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis

The mass death of fish during the summer is not uncommon, officials said.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis wants to build an 800-stall parking garage. Rendering courtesy BWBR

Federal Reserve abandons plan to build 800-space parking ramp in North Loop

After opposition from neighbors, city planners rejected the project 5-4.
The Northern Metal Recycling facility, located on the Mississippi River just south of the Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis.

MPCA: Minneapolis metal shredder must shut down by Aug. 1

Northern Metal Recycling had sought an extension while it completes a new shredder in Becker.
After renovations, Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneapolis was given a grand re-opening, which included running the water fountains and filling the refle

Peavey Plaza reopens with a splash on Nicollet Mall

It took $10 million and more than 10 years to renovate the 1975 spot.
A view of the slide from the Mississippi River.

Mudslide closes part of East River Parkway in Minneapolis

The parkway between Washington Av. and Arlington St. will likely remain closed through the weekend.
The site at Park and Franklin avenues has sat untouched for more than two months. Co-developer McGlynn Partners hasn’t said when construction might

In Minneapolis, closure of Thor Cos. leaves one big hole in the ground

Partner Thor Construction abruptly shut down during work on apartment complex
Resident and gardener Sheila Biernat said her northeast Minneapolis neighborhood has changed in just three years.

Surge of new apartments raises fears of a changing northeast Mpls.

St. Anthony West, a quiet area with modest homes, is growing more densely populated.
Lime scooters are lined up across the street from the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. The scooters will now be available for pickup at Minneapoli

Electric scooters will be available in Minneapolis parks under new agreement

Companies previously weren't allowed to leave vehicles on park property.
Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame spoke with shopkeeper Fadumo Mohamed in 2017 while he led then-Mayor Betsy Hodges, rear, on a swing throu

Minneapolis leaders announce plan for new East African market in Cedar-Riverside neighborhood

A developer for the "destination place" will be selected by year's end.
Thor Cos. out as partner in Minneapolis riverfront development

Thor Cos. out as partner in Minneapolis riverfront development

The firm shut down its construction arm amid lawsuits and other issues.
“I believe people are very scared,” Ayde Vasquez, a Mercado Central store owner, said on Monday in Minneapolis. Vasquez, of Colombia, said she bel

'There is no safe space,' Latinos say, as threats of ICE raids linger

Business is down in a thriving immigrant hub in Minneapolis and residents are on high alert as President Trump steps up his threat of deportations.
Pink and yellow lawn signs have begun to appear in front of homes and apartment buildings in northeast Minneapolis.

Mpls. landlords are ramping up campaign vs. ordinances; pushback follows

Other groups are posting fliers around the city in an attempt to counter the Minnesota Multi Housing Association's efforts.
Renderings of a new overlook of the Mississippi River in north Minneapolis, set to break ground in 2019. The overlook is the first public access to th

Park officials announce Mississippi River overlook in north Minneapolis

The overlook will be the first new access to the river for the North Side in almost 20 years.
Firefighters mop up the scene after an early morning fire at the Bde Maka Ska pavilion on May 16. A replacement structure will likely not be rebuilt u

Bde Maka Ska pavilion won't be rebuilt until '21, Park Board says

In the meantime, Lola on the Lake is serving from a food truck near the site on weekends.
Marla Jadoonanan was touched by the support from her friends and customers. “It’s been overwhelming,” she said. Her south Minneapolis restaurant

As Marla's closes doors, Minneapolis residents protest gentrification

Marla’s Caribbean Cuisine drew people in with slow-cooked meals, warm hospitality and tingling spices. The south Minneapolis restaurant was featured on food shows, including the…
City workers Isaac Prehall, right, and Kevin Henke inspected sidewalks in north Minneapolis last winter, after the city launched a pilot program to ch

Mpls. has work to do on sidewalk snow removal, officials say

Most households inspected by the city during a pilot program last winter shoveled their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowstorm. But council members and pedestrians say the city still has work to do.
Minneapolis City Councilwoman Andrea Jenkins said it’s time to institute security measures at City Hall, where people now come and go without any sc

Virginia Beach shooting sparks call for more security at Mpls. City Hall

After Virginia Beach shootings, council member calls for guarded entries, other changes.
The number of homeowners in Minneapolis challenging the city over the estimated value of their properties has surged for a second consecutive year, ov

Challenges to home valuations surge in Minneapolis

Minneapolis assessor's office overrun with rise in homeowners' requests.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has nominated Kim Keller, pictured above, to stay on as the official overseeing the city’s inspection and regulatory ag

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey nominates Kim Keller to stay on as regulatory services head

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey nominated Kim Keller to stay on as the official overseeing the city’s inspection and regulatory agency after she stepped into the…
The sunset over Lake Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis on Thursday.

Is it Bde Maka Ska or Lake Calhoun? Official name of Mpls. lake still unsettled

The state lacks authority to restore the Dakota name. But that's only part of the story.
An excavator tears down the remnants of Lola on the Lake at the pavilion at Bde Maka Ska/Lake Calhoun, damaged beyond repair during a recent fire and

Bde Maka Ska pavilion is razed; man in video called a suspect

As the fire investigation continues, the man in the video has not been arrested, and the woman caught on camera is not considered a suspect, police said.
Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto and then-interim Superintendent Mary Merrill talked in July 2018 as they walked from a meeting with the family of the f

CAIR files complaint against Minneapolis Park Board over 2018 police incident

The group wants details after four Somali-American teens were handcuffed by park police at Minnehaha Park last year.
Yee Moua photographed his wife, Va Vang, with the cherry blossoms at Lake Harriet on Tuesday. The couple take their picture at the same spot each spri

Minneapolis falls from top park system in country to third; St. Paul stays at No. 2

Population growth is behind the drop, said Trust for Public Land, which ranked St. Paul No. 2.
Two people were seen at the pavilion on Bde Maka Ska/Lake Calhoun just before it caught on fire. Sparks appear to be visible in this photo. Investigat

2 people seen on camera before Bde Maka Ska pavilion fire

The two people were captured on camera standing around the pavilion at the time of the fire, according to officials. Sparks appear to be flying in one of the photos.
Brooke Anthony of Minneapolis talked with Aniki Allen, 9, about his business Ice Cream Bow Ties that creates bow ties from Lego bricks.

At Powderhorn Shark Tank, established and aspiring business owners look to make their dreams reality

Bow tie makers, thrift shop owners, bakers and more competed for cash prizes and a chance to grow their business.
A day and a half after fire gutted the lakeside pavilion that housed Lola on the Lake, people still stopped to look at the destruction as inspectors c

Mpls. parks to tear down Bde Maka Ska pavilion after fire

Lola on the Lake plans to use food trucks after ravaging fire.
Cars in the drive-through at McDonalds on University Avenue and Broadway Avenue on Friday, February 5, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minn.

Minneapolis makes push to ban new drive-through services

The ban was one of the goals listed in the 2040 plan approved last year. Existing ones would be grandfathered in, but none could be added.
A sign for Bde Maka Ska near the south shore of the lake.

Park Board looks to swap Calhoun name with Bde Maka Ska on parkways

Despite a court ruling that reversed the renaming of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is moving to scrub the Calhoun name from surrounding parkways and parkland.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announces the settlement with Justine Damond's family.

Mpls. taxpayers will feel effect of record $20M settlement

The city has enough reserves to pay the settlement, which the city's actuaries consider an "anomaly."
Music therapist Brian Zachek plays guitar and sings for a senior group at Friendship Village in Bloomington.

Using songs as medicine, St. Louis Park music therapist soothes hundreds, including his wife

Brian Zachek's therapy is a tool now common in hospices, hospitals and retirement homes around the Twin Cities.
Cheryl Magnell, steward of the Emily Peake Memorial Garden, walks past a faded sign for the garden on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. The owner of the property

Pending development, Stevens Square says goodbye to community gardens

Two community gardens in south Minneapolis are losing their plots.
Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, seconds from right and the chair of the committee that held Monday's hearing, said he was swayed to delay approval

Minneapolis council committee puts brakes on controversial neighborhoods plan

U may help revise the plan for neighborhood organizations.
Supporters of tenants of former properties owned by embattled landlord Stephen Frenz unfurled a banner reading “Don’t Evict Vanessa” behind the

Tenants facing eviction disrupt Minneapolis City Council meeting

Residents want to be able to buy buildings once owned by embattled landlord Frenz.
Martha Perea was comforted by a friend while clutching a photo of her husband on the steps of the house where the couple lived. Martha Perea’s husba

Victim's family grieves, suspect in fatal crash awaits charges

The 27-year-old suspect from Brooklyn Park had been convicted on a charge of fleeing police just weeks before Wednesday's fatal crash at N. 36th and Aldrich avenues in Minneapolis.
David Rubedor, Minneapolis' director of Neighborhood and Community Relations

After criticism, Minneapolis eases proposed rules for neighborhood groups

Hundreds commented on Mpls. plan to cut funds to neighborhood groups that didn't diversify on time.
The weather was just right for a walk and a bit of stick tossing on Lake Nokomis on Tuesday.

Green light given to $444,000 restoration of Lake Nokomis' shoreline

Seeding of native plants is likely to begin in summer, end by fall.
An earlier rendering of the apartment units proposed for the third phase of Seward Commons. The Minneapolis City Council approved the use of tax subsi

Minneapolis approves use of tax subsidies for market-rate housing

Four council members voted against using public financing for the Seward complex.
President Donald J. Trump speaks at Nuss Truck and Equipment in Burnsville during a roundtable discussion on tax cuts and the U.S. economy Monday in B

Trump cites Minnesota economy as he touts tax cuts

Trump recited a number of GOP selling points for the tax cuts, which Democrats opposed for conferring most of its benefits on the wealthy and large corporations.
Parades, festivals and races draw crowds to Hennepin Avenue each year. Here, members of CAAM Chinese Dance Theater performed during the 2018 Aquatenni

Minneapolis looks for safer, more vibrant Hennepin Avenue via reconstruction

One of downtown's main drags is due for a major renovation.