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
Mayor Jacob Frey welcomed the Park Board commissioners during an August event. Frey, who has to ratify the Park Board’s work, said Thursday he has n

No-shows force cancellation of second Mpls. Park Board meeting this year

Some see the absences as petty politics surrounding the new board president.
The Theodore Wirth Home and Administrative Building at Lyndale Farmstead Park in Minneapolis.

New lease gives Mpls. parks superintendent full use of Wirth Home

The new lease limits public access to the historic home, while Superintendent Al Bangoura will pay more in rent.
Janis Skujins, 1940-2020.

Architect and educator Janis Skujins dies at age 79

Skujins was also a prominent member of the Twin Cities' Latvian community. His family fled during World War II and Soviet occupation.
City planners are accepting proposals for the lot near the Lyndale-Lake intersection in Minneapolis, while some property and business owners feel betr

Lyn-Lake businesses balk at Minneapolis' plan to redevelop parking lot

The city built the lot in the late 1990s to benefit businesses. Some say they still need it.
More than 51,000 people now live in downtown Minneapolis. The population has risen 60% since 2006.

Minneapolis downtown population jumps above 50,000 for first time

The population boom in the city center has accompanied a surge in apartment construction.
Council Member Abdi Warsame championed the idea to build a market during his re-election campaign in 2017.

African market still a go, Minneapolis mayor says

An outgoing City Council member had a re-election pledge to build the mall.
Mississippi Mushrooms president Ian Silver-Ramp near tall shelves of incubating mushrooms Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Minneapolis, MN.

Minneapolis orders shutdown of mushroom farm for code violations

Minneapolis gave farm a month to cease operations after finding it violated its zoning, its owner says.
The Theodore Wirth Home and Administrative Building sat among a snowy landscape Thursday at Lyndale Farmstead Park.

Minneapolis parks superintendent seeks full use of Wirth Home

Al Bangoura said Park Board must decide whether home is residence or museum.

Chanhassen man dies in snowmobile rollover in Becker County

The rollover happened near his family's cabin, according to his obituary.
One of the designs proposed for the outdoor performance venue at the Upper Harbor Terminal site in north Minneapolis.

Next step for Upper Harbor Terminal: Securing $20M from state for massive amphitheater

This year, Minneapolis leaders hope the stage is set to move forward with the city’s first amphitheater, the centerpiece in a large-scale transformation of 48…
Council Member Phillipe Cunningham during a Minneapolis City Council committee meeting that approved the Upper Harbor Terminal concept plan in Februar

After objecting to reporters, Minneapolis advisory committee will be educated on Open Meeting Law

Reporters were asked not to record or photograph during a meeting.
The Upper Harbor Terminal in Minneapolis, shown in 2018.

Dispute at Minneapolis meeting sparks concern Open Meeting Law violated

The City Council appointed the committee made up mostly of residents from north and northeast Minneapolis to help guide the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal.
Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson, shown in 2014.

Minneapolis must spend more on neighborhoods to make them racially equitable, analysis shows

Funding might be found by renewing tax district, council member says
The Commons park in downtown Minneapolis opened in tandem with U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016.

Appeals court: City of Minneapolis can't operate Commons park

The Park Board has run the downtown park since an initial ruling last year.
A pedestrian using a cane walked along an icy sidewalk along Central Avenue Northeast in Minneapolis.

As snow turns to ice, Minneapolis residents want more done on sidewalks

Residents take to social media to call out scofflaws and urge more enforcement.
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

After lengthy process, Minneapolis' ECCO neighborhood renamed as ... ECCO

But now it doesn't stand for anything.
Jono Cowgill

Minneapolis Park Board selects new president for 2020

Three abstained from the vote won by Jono Cowgill, 31.
A rendering of the development that would include a new drive-through at a Starbucks. (Provided by the city of Minneapolis.)

Minneapolis may get a new drive-through despite recent ban

Owner submitted plan before city banned any new drive-throughs.

Chisago County authorities seek father after abducted 6-month-old is found safe

The father, who does not have custodial rights, is armed with knives, according to deputies.
Unsafe ice conditions in the Twin Cities has prompted the usual warnings from the DNR.

Experts urge caution when going out on frozen lakes

After a string of above-freezing days in the Twin Cities, experts are urging lake visitors to take precautions before driving or stepping out on the…
An empty module in the Hennepin County Juvenile Justice Center in Minneapolis. It is one of 13 mods in the Center.

Mpls., county to create new center for young offenders

A criminal justice committee will work to create a center where minors would be held until a social worker can take charge of them. Previously, they were sent to an unsecured center in City Hall where some walked away.
Millions in revenue from park dedication fees remain untouched. Much of that is from a development boom in downtown as well as the North Loop, Uptown

Minneapolis sits on $10 million meant for parks

State law restricts where, how funds can be spent in city neighborhoods.
The Upper Harbor Terminal in Minneapolis, shown in 2018.

Minneapolis' effort to win support for riverfront project runs into turbulence

Leaders of a community group tasked with refining the plan have resigned or spoken out in protest.
The Minneapolis Park Board's Brad Bourn at the Minneapolis DFL convention in 2017 at the Minneapolis Convention Center .

Minneapolis Park Board President Brad Bourn will give up leadership post next year

After two years leading the board, Bourn will remain a commissioner for the rest of his term.
The Burger King on Nicollet Avenue S. in Minneapolis first opened its drive-through window in 1964.

Minneapolis says no to reopening two Burger Kings over drive-throughs

Minneapolis buildings deemed abandoned for more than a year cannot be reopened under nonconforming uses, meaning they could not reopen with drive-throughs, senior city planner Andrew Frenz said.
City Council President Lisa Bender, center, and other council members voted to approve the 2040 Comprehensive Plan on Dec. 7.

Minneapolis City Council approves $1.6 billion budget for 2020

Affordable housing and a full police cadet class are among the highlights of the budget, which carries the largest property tax levy increase in a decade.
Bartender Brandon Gonzalez mixed beverages for guests at the bar at Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis.

Minnesota craft distillers prepare for worst as federal tax relief expires

Small distilleries may have to cut staffers, raise their prices or close altogether, representatives say.
In 2018, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo greeted cadets ahead of a news conference held by Mayor Jacob Frey.

Mayor Frey wants Mpls. to hire, train new class of police cadets

The mayor had proposed hiring 14 officers for specific roles, but now wants a full class of cadets.
Bob Rose

Robert Rose, educator and president of the Minneapolis teachers' union, dies at 93

Rose remained active politically and in the lives of his former students even after he entered his 90s, his daughter said.

Minneapolis declares climate emergency, plans sustainable building policy

City needs to double down on its greenhouse gas reductions, officials said.
Canadian Pacific demolished the ShorehamYards roundhouse to create storage space for empty shipping containers.

CP takes rail yard off market, catching Mpls. officials by surprise

Officials, neighbors worry about unsightly stacks of shipping containers, traffic.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey proposed adding 14 new police officers during his annual budget address, far fewer than what the city's police chief requ

Minneapolis City Council to consider budget that would add police, money for 2020 elections

Mayor Jacob Frey's proposal comes with a 6.95% property tax levy increase.
Adam Borgen, chairman of of Serving Those Serving tends bar at Burger Dive in Roseville.

In Twin Cities, a push to get restaurant workers mental health benefits they need

Serving Those Serving connects food service workers with help for addiction, depression and other job-related troubles.
A man carried plastic bags of groceries out of Kowalski’s in Uptown in Minneapolis, Minn., on Thursday, July 23, 2015.

Mpls. Council OKs nickel fee on most plastic and paper bags

It comes after the state blocked bag bans.
Vanessa Haight, the executive director of Elliot Park Neighborhood Inc., hosts a dinner for stakeholders on how to solve a food desert problem.

In a corner of downtown Mpls., neighbors have to trek for food

Residents in Elliot Park say healthy, affordable food is hard to come by in their neighborhood.
Shirwa Jibril died after he was assaulted following an altercation on a Metro Transit bus.

Man, 75, killed in Metro Transit bus attack is identified

The Minneapolis man died almost a week after the attack.

St. Louis County courthouse in Virginia, Minn., evacuated following bomb threat

Authorities did not find an explosive inside the building.
Aaron Doering

U professor who pleaded guilty to domestic assault resigns

Aaron Doering, 48, pleaded guilty to choking his fiancée in 2018.
Josefa Calleja, left, and Cecilia Morales worked on the presort line at the Eureka Recycling facility in Minneapolis, pulling nonrecyclables from the

Minneapolis looks to improve access to composting in order to reduce waste

City plans to go through some trash to make sure it's being sorted right.
Susan Segal has been Minneapolis’ city attorney for 12 years.

Rising to Court of Appeals, Susan Segal looks back on tenure as Minneapolis city attorney

Minneapolis' legal counsel to join state appeals court.
The Minneapolis City Council eliminated single-family zoning that had been in place for decades.

Minneapolis moves forward by allowing triplexes citywide

The City Council sets first part of 2040 plan in motion, eliminating single-family zoning.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Minneapolis mayor nominates Erik Nilsson as interim city attorney

In an interview, Nilsson said he was "enthusiastic and excited" about the interim job.
Stephen Greenfield, a volunteer with Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary, says it’s “plausible” pesticides could have been misused there.

Claim of pesticide dumping near Lake Harriet being investigated

Hundreds of park visitors, volunteers and wildlife were potentially exposed to the pesticides around Lake Harriet, including a frog discovered with mutations.
Alec Voight bagged groceries at Kowalski’s in Minneapolis. A City Council member has reintroduced a proposal to charge five cents for each bag — p

Minneapolis tries again to set nickel fee on plastic, paper bags

The Legislature blocked the city's efforts to ban plastic bags in 2017.
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.

Minneapolis, St. Paul stuck in stubborn tax trend of increases every year

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.