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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
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.
The number of tobacco shops in Minneapolis more than doubled after the sale of menthol products was restricted to adult-only establishments in 2018, a

Tobacco shops in Minneapolis doubled after menthol restrictions enacted, report finds

The City Council is now considering other restrictions once ban on new shops ends this summer.
The city of Plymouth's pump track

Minneapolis' first pump track coming to North Side park

Riders use upper- and lower-body strength, not pedals, to move along the track.
The MPHA is looking to transfer this North Side unit and about 650 similar properties to a nonprofit it would own and control.

Minneapolis looking to move hundreds of public-housing properties under nonprofit

The cost of maintaining single-family homes is far outpacing what the federal government is providing the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.
Mary LaGarde, executive director of the Minneapolis American Indian Center, pauses to answer a media question in which she responded that it is her ob

Minneapolis, Hennepin County unveil new strategies for tackling opioid epidemic

The sweeping recommendations would help deal with a "public health emergency and epidemic," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said.
The Masjid Salaam Cultural Center, located off Central Avenue and St. Anthony Parkway in northeast Minneapolis,

Sale of Mpls. park land for Islamic center still possible, Park Board says

Mpls. Park Board told the center's supporters that a deal is still possible.
An earlier rendering of the apartment units proposed for the third phase of Seward Commons. A proposed $3.7 million subsidy for its construction was t

Minneapolis leaders at odds over subsidy for new housing along Blue Line

The multiphase project, which is already underway, aims to bring mixed-income housing to an industrial area.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, fourth from left, poses with members of the team behind Stigma, a new store selling hemp and CBD products in the North L

At CBD store opening in Minneapolis, mayor reaffirms support for legalizing cannabis

Consumers are embracing CBD and hemp products for health problems, despite a lack of research.
Reiko Taguchi Sumada

Reiko Taguchi Sumada, who survived internment camp and made a life in Minnesota, dies at 92

Family and friends remembered Sumada for her compassion and upbeat personality.
Mississippi Mushrooms president Ian Silver-Sharp near tall shelves of incubating mushrooms Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Minneapolis.

In changing north Mpls. riverfront, mushroom farm fights to fit in

Since 2015, Mississippi Mushrooms has cultivated several varieties in the middle of the former Upper Harbor Terminal.
The Commons park in downtown Minneapolis.

Minneapolis seeks to transfer Commons park to Park Board

Minneapolis City Council to vote on transfer in response to court ruling.
The Northern Metals Recycling facility, located on the Mississippi River just south of the Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis. Families in north Minne

Families urged to seek free lead, asthma testing in north Minneapolis

The services are funded by a settlement over air pollution concerns at Northern Metals Recycling.
Hiawatha Golf Club

Golf isn't all that's on the table as Mpls. Park Board weighs final plans for future of Hiawatha course

An aquatic driving range, a BMX track, an amphitheater and more could be part of the redesigned Hiawatha Golf Club in south Minneapolis, according to concept plans for the property released this month.
The Cepro site, located at 2828 11th Av. S., is Minneapolis' newest official park. It is next to the Midtown Greenway and directly northeast of the Mi

Minneapolis adds new park off Midtown Greenway, and it needs a name

The Park Board is looking to officially name the lot known as the Cepro site.
Thousands of vehicle owners have found out the hard way about the first winter parking ban in St. Paul and Minneapolis since 2014. Above, a tow operat

Winter parking rules leave a trail of tickets for Twin Cities drivers

Hundreds of drivers were ticketed or towed this week after St. Paul and Minneapolis imposed single-side parking rules on residential streets.
Sophie Konewko and Megan Albers decided to take two Bird scooters for a ride through downtown Minneapolis after lunch Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

Electric scooter fleet could triple in Minneapolis

Almost 226,000 rides were taken on the rental scooters last year, and this year there could be 2,000 of the two-wheeled vehicles.
Getting more Minneapolis residents to use public transportation, like Metro Transit busing, is part of the 2040 plan.

Less driving, more of everything else: Mpls. plans for future of transportation

The city is seeking to improve pedestrian, biking and public transit infrastructure as part of the 2040 comprehensive plan.
A rendering provided by the city shows the proposed Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment in north Minneapolis.

With Minneapolis' first amphitheater, city walks fine line between national and community attraction

Minneapolis riverfront plan has raised concerns for North Siders about their role in redevelopment.
Opponents of the Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment stood with their backs to the Minneapolis City Council following the unanimous approval of the pr

Massive riverfront project approved by Mpls. City Council

The redevelopment of 48 acres along the Mississippi River includes an amphitheater, park space and hundreds of housing units.

Former Mpls. firefighter will be able to sue for disability discrimination, high court rules

Firefighter was injured after being forbidden to wear prescription shoes.
Kerry Brendmoen of Corky's Towing removed a vehicle that was parked on the wrong side of a snow emergency route in south Minneapolis earlier this mont

Minneapolis imposes one-side-only street parking until April 1

People can only park on the odd-numbered sides of streets and both sides of snow emergency routes.
Berger Fountain at Loring Park in Minneapolis.

Loring Park's popular dandelion fountain to get full restoration

Loring Park's dandelion-shaped fountain has been the backdrop for countless engagement proposals and wedding photos in downtown Minneapolis throughout the decades. Now, it's getting a…
Roxxanne O'Brien, right, of the Environmental Justice Coordinating Council, voiced shared frustrations in the Upper Harbor Terminal plan to First Aven

Mpls. council panel advances North Side riverfront development, with pledge to listen

Critics of the Upper Harbor Terminal plan, however, remain more cautious than optimistic.
In this Friday, June 8, 2018, photo, a "For Sale" sign stands in front of a house, in Jenkintown, Pa. Home sales in many areas of the country have dip

Minneapolis to require home sellers to test for energy efficiency

Holes must be drilled in walls of older residences to check for insulation.
New apartment construction is driving growth in downtown Minneapolis.

Almost 50,000 people now live in downtown Minneapolis

Downtown's population has risen steadily for years now. Four new residential buildings contributed to an increase in 2017, and more units opened up last year.
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