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Miguel Otárola

Suburban Reporter | Newsroom
Phone: 612-673-4753
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: Spanish

Miguel Otárola is a metro reporter for the Star Tribune. He covers Minneapolis' western suburbs during the week and breaking news on weekends. 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
The Minneapolis City Council votes to approve the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

Minneapolis City Council approves 2040 plan with a 12-1 vote

The nearly unanimous vote was a victory for City Council President Lisa Bender, who says it "sets a bold vision" for Minneapolis.
Attorney Jack Perry argued Thursday for a temporary restraining order to prevent a Minneapolis City Council vote on the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

In reversal, judge allows Friday vote on Mpls. 2040 plan

The latest decision by Hennepin County District Judge Joseph R. Klein means the vote to submit the city's development blueprint is going on as scheduled.
Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender spoke to attendees of a council meeting in January 2018.

Minneapolis City Council moves 2040 plan for final vote

Debate over the guiding document for the city's growth captured neighborhood interest for most of the year.
Jared Roddy and his son, Frank, 2, used the sudden snowstorm to go sledding Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at Audubon Park in Northeast Minneapolis. The storm

Winter storm brings whiteouts in southern Minnesota

Snowfall is expected to ebb Sunday, with the metro area getting 2 to 5 inches.
Light rail and auto traffic was affected after a train car and SUV collided at the intersection of 5th Street and 3rd Avenue in downtown Minneapolis o

No one hurt when car hits light-rail train in downtown Minneapolis

"I just didn't stop fast enough," the driver said.

Neighbors contest Minneapolis' plans for public works site

City Council to vote next week on plans for former Roof Depot in East Phillips.
Andrea Inouye will lead the city’s efforts on low-income housing.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey names top aide for affordable housing

Coordinator position in Minneapolis comes with a $142,000 annual salary.
Minneapolis City Council wraps up changes to 2040 plan ahead of final vote

Minneapolis City Council wraps up changes to 2040 plan ahead of final vote

Council members now believe the measure is set to be passed next week.
Seven formal complaints about sidewalk snow and ice removal were sent to the home of Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender last winter, resul

Unshoveled sidewalks led to seven complaints, $149 fine for Mpls. Council President Lisa Bender

Lisa Bender says she should be treated like anyone else.
The ride-share zone is part of an effort by the city to control the chaos unleashed at bar close.

Downtown Minneapolis to designate pickup zones for Uber, Lyft at bar close

Plan would aim to reduce downtown congestion.
Malinda Gatewood, center, smiled as she sat with Natilia, 10, and, from left, Jameson, 6, Tyrees, 4, and Andre, 8, during their adoption hearing.

On Adoption Day, Twin Cities parents and kids celebrate new families

Almost 40 children were adopted by more than 20 families in Minneapolis. More got new families in Ramsey County.
There was a full crowd in the chambers and overflow rooms during a recent public hearing on the 2040 Comprehensive Plan at City Hall in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan likely to pass, council members say

Even opponents concede there are enough votes to pass proposal at Dec. 7 City Council meeting.
There was a full crowd in the chambers and overflow rooms during a public hearing on the 2040 Comprehensive Plan at Minneapolis City Hall on Wednesday

Minneapolis neighbors gather for latest chance to weigh in on 2040 Comprehensive Plan

The public hearing held by the City Council, among the final steps in a contentious process, went on for nearly five hours.

Shakopee police kill person they say pointed gun at officer

A Shakopee police officer shot and killed a man who pointed a gun at the officer who was responding to a fire alarm late Friday,…
The first Latina mayor elected in Minnesota, Richfield Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez, greeted students at Richfield STEM Elementary on Friday.

From Richfield to Anoka, women of color made history in this year's election

Newly elected leaders bring diverse voices, backgrounds and experience to local offices.
Sheriff elect Dave “Hutch” Hutchinson, who pulled one of the biggest upsets of election night by narrowly defeating Hennepin County Sheriff Rich S

'A clean slate': Hutchinson claims victory over Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek

Hutchinson leads vote, but Stanek not conceding
The race for Hennepin County sheriff pits challenger Dave Hutchinson against incumbent Rich Stanek.

Dave Hutchinson narrowly leads Rich Stanek in race for Hennepin sheriff

A historic election was seen Tuesday night in Hennepin County, where residents elected their first commissioners of color and a first-time candidate was leading in a bid to unseat Sheriff Rich Stanek.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman was reelected Tuesday evening over challenger Mark Haase.

Mike Freeman holds on to Hennepin County Attorney's office in tight race

Mike Freeman was re-elected as Hennepin County attorney, besting his…

Richfield elects Maria Regan Gonzalez, the first Latina mayor in the state

Regan Gonzalez, 33, ran unopposed after incumbent Pat Elliott announced he wouldn't seek re-election this year.
Minneapolis city crews already plow some sidewalks, but property owners do most of them. The city requires owners of single-family homes or duplexes t

Minneapolis gets tougher on sidewalk snow removal, may take it over

It steps up enforcement and weighs taking on the job.
Emergency medical personnel gather at the scene of a hit-and-run accident Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in Lake Hallie, Wis., that killed three girls and an

3 Girl Scouts among 4 killed in western Wis. hit-and-run crash

A 21-year-old driver is in custody after allegedly fleeing the scene along a county road where the girls had been picking up litter.
The race for Hennepin County sheriff pits challenger Dave Hutchinson, left, and incumbent Rich Stanek.

Sheriff Rich Stanek takes aim at opponent Dave Hutchinson's campaign practices

Hutchinson says he has "no idea" about the nature of the allegations being investigated by Brooklyn Park police.
An updated rendering of a 250,000 square foot indoor water park proposed in front of the Mall of America in Bloomington.

$250 million MOA water park floated as no risk to taxpayers

The city of Bloomington thinks it can build what could be the continent's largest indoor water park next to the Mall of America, while protecting local taxpayers if it's a financial flop.
Congregants of Mount Zion during the Twin Cities Annual Yom HaShoah Commemoration on April 12, 2018. The synagogue and others across the state will in

At Minnesota synagogues, shock, grief and increased security

"In these kinds of times, the best thing for us to do is to be together," said a Twin Cities cantor.
Hennepin County plans to expand the Behavioral Health Center just south of downtown Minneapolis to include a triage center on the first floor.

Hennepin County wants to offer an alternative to jail in growing Behavioral Health Center

The goal of the center is to decrease recidivism for people who are often homeless or poor and find themselves in frequent contact with police.
The St. Paul cave complex has claimed the lives of a handful of people since the early 1990s and led to countless rescue operations by the fire depart

Stay away from St. Paul caves, officials warn (yet again)

Rescuers were called in after two teens were seen entering St. Paul caves.
Hennepin County commissioner candidates Irene Fernando, left, and Blong Yang.

Fernando and Yang vying for Hennepin County Commissioner in District 2

District 2 race features a political newcomer and ex-City Council member.
Renderings of the Grandview Green concept, part of a June presentation by the city of Edina.

Edina puts brakes on Grandview Green project over Hwy. 100

The 750-foot bridge — widely referred to as a "lid" — would support a public green space over the highway and be surrounded by private development. The city says bridge could still be decades away.

Hennepin County unable to make new IDs in two locations

Two service centers in Hennepin County were unable to process applications for new driver's licenses or state IDs Saturday because of connectivity issues with recently…

McLaughlin, Conley go head to head for Hennepin County commissioner

The longtime incumbent and the first-time candidate went deep in debate Thursday night.
The Hennepin County Board approved using state grants to relocate people to this fourplex at 2408 4th Av. S., Minneapolis.

Hennepin County spending $214,000 to house a dozen people from tent camp

Residents of homeless tent camp are expected to move into the former Kateri Residence next week, officials said.
The race for Hennepin County sheriff pits challenger Dave “Hutch” Hutchinson and incumbent Rich Stanek.

In Hennepin County sheriff's race, claims of a partisan divide

Sheriff Rich Stanek, looking for his fourth term, is running against Metro Transit police Sgt. Dave Hutchinson.
"Love Power" Jesus mural in Minneapolis' West Bank neighborhood Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, in Minneapolis, MN.

Ann Sandell, founder of Minneapolis' Love Power Church, dies at 86

A painting of Jesus already adorned the two-story brick building at Washington Avenue and 14th Avenue S. in Minneapolis when Love Power Church began renting…

Hennepin County Government Center parking ramp to close for construction

Crews will be repairing the garage's concrete floors and walls, resealing the floors and repainting lines, with work set to be done by Nov. 19.

One dead after pickup-semi collision in Redwood County

The pickup truck crossed the centerline into oncoming traffic, authorities said.
Three Hopkins West Junior High students died last school year, sending a massive wave of grief and sorrow among the student body. On Friday morning, t

Hopkins middle school begins to move on after student tragedy

Students posted messages of love and kindness in an effort to bring peace to the school.
Sisters Rory, 2, left, and Henri, 3, looked at a child’s artwork while visiting the Farmers Market with their grandmother Julie of Bloomington.

Bloomington art exhibit aims to share fears, anxieties of immigrant children

Separation from family is among the deep fears and anxieties depicted in drawings and essays curated for Bloomington exhibit.
County Administrator David Hough presents the 2019 budget to the Hennepin County Board Tuesday.

Hennepin County eyes a 5.5 percent increase in the property tax levy

Funding for child protection services is at center of need for $43 million in new revenue.
Gov. Mark Dayton

Dayton to meet with Minnesota county attorneys about abuse by clergy

Meetings this month are the first step in possible grand jury investigations.
Wildflowers grow in a prairie at Minnetonka's Lone Lake Park in July. The nonprofit group Protect Our Minnetonka Parks sued the city Thursday over a p

Environmentalists sue Minnetonka over proposed mountain bike trails

Group is concerned about the impact of proposed mountain biking trails.
Thor Cos.’ founder Richard Copeland waved ceremonial scissors as CEO Ravi Norman beamed at his side at Friday’s block party at Plymouth and Penn a

Thor's new headquarters touted as a 'beacon of hope' for North Side

Regional Acceleration Center designed as catalyst for prosperity and growth

Officials: 24 Hennepin employees investigated for misconduct

Twelve resign in the face of misconduct allegations.
Edina Mayor James Hovland said city staff members had some reservations about the creation of a resident oversight board to review police misconduct c

Edina aims to improve racial equity, drops police oversight board

The multiyear plan, approved last week by the City Council, includes dozens of directives but leaves out some requested by a task force that sought to address police relations.

Woman arrested after Faribault man stabbed to death

The couple had a history of domestic violence, police said.
Dave Hughes, the endorsed congressional candidate in Minnesota's Seventh District, spoke in June at the Republican state convention in Duluth.

Trump tweets 'Total Endorsement!' for Collin Peterson challenger Dave Hughes

The president declared his support for the GOP Seventh District challenger Saturday morning.
Aaron Claus of Carp Solutions hurled a carp from their boat in to the back of a waiting pickup truck. Crews pulled invasive carp from nets in Stieger

To boost Lake Minnetonka, carp get tossed from nearby lakes

Overpopulation of the invasive fish is choking several area lakes and degrading the habitat.
Hennepin County Deputy Administration Jennifer DeCubellis, shown in 2017, said there is a “sense of hope.”

Hennepin County placing more mistreated kids with relatives, fewer in shelters

A report released Thursday points to some progress since reforms were enacted in 2015.
Richfield has more than a dozen projects, including a Primrose School, worth $200 million currently underway.

'Explosion of interest' leads to $200M Richfield redevelopment boom

Housing, auto dealerships, doughnuts and more are headed to Richfield, which is suddenly hot.
A rendering depicts the proposed new fire station and expanded police station at the city campus in Minnetonka.

New Minnetonka fire, police facilities would reflect larger, changing departments

City Council to consider $25 million proposal.
A woman watched as commuters navigated Portland Avenue southbound during the evening rush hour Friday.

Mpls. joins national lawsuit supporting high fuel efficiency for vehicles

Minneapolis announced that it has joined an amicus brief with 17 states challenging the Trump administration’s plans to weaken fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. The…

After family tragedy on Lake Superior, a plea for kayak safety

The kayak ride off the Apostle Islands that killed all but one member of a Wisconsin family would have been strenuous for even a highly trained kayaker, experts said.
Lois Langer Thompson oversaw an $86.2M budget in her post atop the system.

Hennepin County Library Director Lois Langer Thompson leaves for new post

After 10 years, Lois Langer Thompson departs for a similar role in Washington.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, shown in California. Federal immigration agents could be asked to identify themselves while on Hennepi

Hennepin County could ask immigration agents to improve conduct

Hennepin Board members draft resolution listing behavior expectations.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who's running for state attorney general, spoke with fairgoers Saturday.

For Ellison, day at fair is about issues, not allegations

Ellison met by the DFL Party tent with more than a dozen people, who came up to shake his hand, take photos and chat, mostly about policy.
Hennepin County is now the owner of the Thrivent Financial building in downtown Minneapolis after the $55 million purchase of the glassy, angular stru

Hennepin County closes deal on Thrivent building in downtown Minneapolis

It will be about two years until the county is able to expand into the building.
People walked along the pedestrian trails of Normandale Lake in Bloomington on Thursday.

Normandale Lake in Bloomington to be drained to kill invasive curly-leaf pondweed

Most of Bloomington's 112-acre Normandale Lake will be dry until April.
Local activists and public defenders have said that federal agents arrest immigrants in courthouses or county buildings.

Hennepin County finalizes deal for legal services for residents facing deportation

County Board finalized a $275,000 contract 4-3.
Environmental and recreational issues were the focus Saturday at Game Fair where Minnesota candidates for governor Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson debated.

Tim Walz, Jeff Johnson go deep on guns, copper mining and other outdoor issues

The gubernatorial debate, held at Game Fair in Ramsey, was the third in the last two days.
The St. Louis Park City Council, shown in 2016. Elected officials see the policies as a way to quickly assist renters whose affordable housing goes up

West-metro suburbs give low-income tenants more rights — or at least more time

New policies give tenants time and resources if displaced by new landlord.
Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene spearheaded the idea of an immigrant legal defense fund.

Hennepin Co. to set up $275K deal with nonprofit for legal help for immigrants

County Board expected to decide Tuesday whether to award $275,000 contract.
A common bumblebee at Lone Lake Park. Habitat for the rusty patched bumblebee could be affected by proposed bike trails.

Trail plan in Minnetonka pits bikes against endangered bees

A plan to add mountain bike trails at Minnetonka's Lone Lake Park worries naturalists concerned about the fate of the rusty patched bumblebee.
The grounds crew rolled the tarp over the field at the start of a rain delay during the Twins-Royals game at Target Field on Friday.

After a night of heavy rain across central Minnesota, more is possible Saturday

The St. Cloud area got up to 4 inches of rain Friday night.

St. Louis Park rabbi arrested in underage sex sting operation

The rabbi, a director of youth outreach, was arrested in a sting leading up to the Super Bowl.
The Apple Valley Aquatic Center closed early Tuesday afternoon after an 18-year-old allegedly pushed an 8-year-old boy off a water slide.

Maple Grove man suspected of pushing 8-year-old off Apple Valley waterslide

The boy is in stable condition after falling 31 feet to the ground, police say.
An estimated 200 people protesting the killing of Thurman Blevins by two Minneapolis police officers marched downtown Tuesday.

Protesters decry Blevins death, block light rail in downtown Minneapolis

The protesters gathered in a circle, chanted and took a knee.
More than 65 trips spread between 40 bus routes across the metro area will be suspended because of a shortage of drivers at Metro Transit.

Driver shortage leads Metro Transit to suspend trips on dozens of bus routes

More than 65 trips spread between 40 bus routes across the metro area will be suspended.

Minnetonka police want to connect mental-crisis callers with therapists

When Scott Marks isn’t serving Minnetonka as a community engagement officer, he’s providing counseling at an outpatient clinic in Golden Valley. Seeing mental health patients…

Brooklyn Center man charged after allegedly driving a boat while drunk and striking a child

Brooklyn Center man was drunk and tried to flee, police say. The child is OK.
“How many children’s lives and people’s lives are we going to have to accept losing before we decide that there are some minimal things that we

St. Louis Park seeks to strengthen firearm regulations upon request from students

The move is the result of discussions held this year between city officials and St. Louis Park students who pleaded for stricter gun control following a spate of school shootings across the nation.
Tenant Lourdes Vargas says her apartment building has numerous problems, including an infestation of mice and cockroaches.

As conditions at Richfield apartments remain poor, nonprofit developer takes the heat

Richfield officials are underwhelmed with Aeon's progress.
Joseph Gomm was a corrections officer killed by an inmate at Stillwater prison.

Stillwater corrections officer's funeral to be held Thursday

Joseph Gomm, 45, was killed while on duty last week.
Ethiopian leader Abiy Ahmed, shown in June, is planning to visit Minneapolis at the end of July.

Prime minister of Ethiopia to visit Minnesota for the first time

The prime minister of Ethiopia is expected to visit Minneapolis on July 30, and city officials are urging him to help end conflict between that…
Mourners embraced one another for support atop the Faith Deliverance Holiness Church steps in the middle of the service for Thurman Blevins on Saturda

Thurman Blevins mourned and honored at Minneapolis funeral

Thurman Blevins, 31, was shot and killed by police on June 23.
Riders pay for LimeBikes through a smartphone app and can park anywhere, at no cost to the cities. The suburbs are eager to get going, but the company

Though first to sign on, Golden Valley and Edina still await their dockless bikes

Delayed shipment testing the patience of officials in Golden Valley and Edina.
Susan Yost walked through a scaffolded pedestrian walkaway toward the shops at 50th and France. Construction of the Nolan Mains apartments and a nearb

As 50th & France area grows, business owners feel the pinch

Four businesses in the district have closed during construction, according to the city of Edina. Others are looking forward to the projects' end.
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