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
With sunny spring weather becoming the norm, people are getting out and embracing the warmer temps while not all practicing social distancing as evide

Leaders plead for distancing in Mpls. parks through summer

Alarmed by the numbers gathering at the most popular lakes and trails, parks leaders doubled down on their call for people to spread out and visit smaller neighborhood parks instead. They say doing so could head off more drastic action, such as closing parks altogether.

Motorcyclist killed in crash north of Mankato

The driver's identity has not been released.
Like other small store owners, Phoenix Market manager Tarig Mohamed is finding ways around virus challenges

Corner stores play essential role as Minnesotans cope with virus

Operators scramble to keep supplies coming and their employees safe.
A rubber-gloved shopper carried paper towels and other supplies recently through the downtown Minneapolis skyway.

Skyways in Minneapolis, Duluth are cutting hours or closing altogether

Minneapolis' skyways are owned by each building, and as a result have different hours of operation.
The bar at Ginger Hop, sister restaurant to basement club Honey. The restaurant and club in Minneapolis are now closed.

Ginger Hop, beloved club Honey permanently closing in Mpls. amid pandemic

Honey and Ginger Hop were open just outside downtown Minneapolis for more than 10 years.
Some of Minneapolis’ most popular parks, including at Lake of the Isles, have seen a rush of people seeking a break from their homes.

Minneapolis to close some parkways so runners, walkers can spread out

The Park Board is expecting to close other parkways, but hasn't said which ones.
People are finding ways to stay social during social isolation.

Google Hangouts, virtual happy hours: Minnesotans find ways to connect

From Google Hangouts to alley parties, friends and family are staying connected in creative ways.
Indeed Brewery co-founder Tom Whisenand hosted the “Who Needs a Beer?” Facebook Live variety show and begged viewers to leave a virtual tip for hi

Livestreams, Google hangouts and alley parties: How Minnesotans are keeping their distance during coronavirus

Despite social distancing, we need to maintain our links with others.
The walking path at Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis was full of people out for fresh air on March 17. The Park Board is urging people to practice soc

It's too close for comfort on wildly popular Minneapolis park paths

Park Board echoes health advice: Enjoy nature, but stay 6 feet apart.
A few people were still moving around in downtown Minneapolis but nothing near the lunch hour weekday crowds along Nicollet Mall at 8th Street.

A forlorn St. Patrick's Day reveler, missing benches, empty plazas: Scenes from downtown Minneapolis

Some people were still working, but mostly, downtown is becoming deserted.
Some programs have been canceled but state parks, campgrounds and other natural areas will remain open during the coronavirus-related shutdown.

Parks and trails remain open, even as facilities close and activities are canceled

State parks, campgrounds and other natural places will remain open for now, but expect some changes upon visiting because of safety measures related to the coronavirus.
Mayor Jacob Frey, seen in Feburary, declared a public health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak on Monday, March 16.

Frey declares local emergency, puts limits on bars, restaurants

The Minneapolis mayor's decision comes one day after St. Paul declared a similar emergency. Minneapolis will also stop issuing permits for gatherings of 50 or people, citing guidance from the CDC.
Coalition of people opposed to the Minneapolis school district's restructuring plan (CDD) rallied before Tuesday's school board meeting.

Immigrant families feel most affected by Minneapolis school district redesign

Latino, Somali parents say Minneapolis district isn't listening to their concerns.
Minneapolis and St. Paul officials cheered a new “SPEED LIMIT 25” sign at the corner of Franklin Avenue and SE. Emerald Street near the cities’

New speed limits in Minneapolis, St. Paul: 25 mph and 20 mph

Leaders in both cities celebrated the lower speed limits in an event held in pouring rain on the municipal border line.
On the Midtown Greenway, bikers took advantage of the break in the weather.

Minneapolis bets on walking, public transit to overtake driving by 2030

The city sets goals in 10-year plan to lower carbon emissions, reduce trips in vehicles.
Minneapolis has bought out the lease of the Kmart on Lake Street, top. The back of the store, above, will be part of the demolition in order to open u

Kmart closure will bring change to diverse Mpls. neighborhood

People in the heavily Latino and immigrant community could only speculate as to what's next. Most say it's been a long time coming.
Seen from the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge, auto traffic on Hiawatha Ave. near 26th dealt with a mixture of snow and rain during the morning commute Thursd

Mpls., St. Paul to lower speed limits on city streets together

Leaders in Minneapolis and St. Paul agree: Drivers on city streets need to slow down. So with new authority from the Legislature, they're collaborating to lower speed limits from the current 30 mph. They're not saying yet how low, but officials from both cities will announce the new limits and unveil signs at an event next week.
Carlton Harris of Street Voices for Change spoke during a press conference announcing the city opening up storage containers for the homeless to store

New storage containers are a lifeline for homeless in Minneapolis

People can leave their things in the containers and go about their day.
Crews used 12 snow guns to make snow at Minneapolis’ Theodore Wirth Park, where the World Cup cross-country ski race will be held beginning March 14

To beat the melt, World Cup ski race in Mpls. has made 720,000 cubic feet of snow

It's not the first event the Loppet has had to make snow for, but it's the biggest.
The observation deck at the “Witch’s Hat” water tower in Prospect Park is only open once per year, and hundreds gather in long lines for a chanc

Minneapolis neighbors lose appeal over Witch's Hat tower views

Neighborhood group loses appeal to stop project.
With nowhere to sit, people stood as they waited downtown for a bus Wednesday. City officials say it’s a question of cost.

Missing from Hennepin Avenue overhaul: Somewhere to sit

Some worry that a lack of benches will punish pedestrians and the homeless.
Delineator sticks have been installed at the intersection of 27th and S. Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis' Uptown area, but safety advocates say measures

Fight to make Mpls. streets safer revolves around Lyndale

Demonstrators have clamored for safety improvements on Lyndale, protesting with signs that say "Safe Streets For All" and "#FixLyndale." Members of a new campaign called Safe Streets Save Lives say they plan to protest each month until more changes are made to the street.
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.