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
Abu Bakr, now a resident at the hotel, made a call in the lobby Wednesday afternoon. He was living in his car before last week's unrest, but his car w

Volunteers turned former Sheraton Hotel in Minneapolis into sanctuary for homeless

The hotel is now a 24/7 operation housing more than 200 homeless residents.
Minneapolis Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto and then-interim Superintendent Mary Merrill in July 2018.

Park Board votes unanimously to end working with police in Minneapolis

It was the latest partner to pull out of relationships with the embattled department, joining the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools, museums and a host of other venues.
People look over the fire-gutted US Post Office along 31st St. and 1st Ave. Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Minneapolis, MN.

'Fire, fire, fire': Night of terror in Minneapolis as calls to 911 don't deliver help

Neighborhoods around Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue became a focal point as groups of protesters converged on the Fifth Precinct station.
Minneapolis firefighters doused a large fire that torched a pawnshop early Friday morning just south of the Cedar-Riverside intersection.

Latest: Firefighters rush to contain blaze at Cedar-Riverside pawnshop

More businesses vandalized, looted overnight in wake of George Floyd death during arrest.
Friends and relatives tried to secure La Poblanita in Minneapolis after it was looted Wednesday night.

Mpls. small-business owners pick up pieces after night of destruction

"COVID didn't close me, but this is going to close me," says one shop owner.
Hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists spent the afternoon at Bde Maka Ska Wednesday. ] aaron.lavinsky@startribune.com Minneapolis’ parks have become

Minneapolis back on top in ranking of best parks system; St. Paul is No. 3

The annual ranking by the Trust for Public Land restored Minneapolis' bragging rights.
Lyndale Avenue was full bikes and people during Open Streets in June 2018.

Open Streets Minneapolis events canceled in June and July

Organizers are considering rescheduling some of those events for October.
In August, Minneapolis park workers installed new placards to bestow the new lake name on the parkways surrounding while the fight played out in court

Bde Maka Ska name stays, Minnesota Supreme Court says

The ruling that the Minnesota DNR has the authority to rename the lake caps a yearslong dispute over the popular Minneapolis lake and reverses a decision from the Court of Appeals last spring.
Shelly Hendricks

Masks pose a new problem for Minnesota's deaf and hard of hearing

Masks muffle voices and make reading lips impossible for folks who "already feel isolated at times."
Jenn McEwen

Third DFL incumbent blasts party endorsement process after losing

A third Democratic state legislator is questioning his party’s endorsement process after losing his bid for the DFL’s backing to a primary challenger. State Sen.…
A small camp of about a dozen tents along Hiawatha Avenue has swelled to more than 100 homeless men and women. Crews wearing protective Tyvek suits cl

Officials seek to contain growing Camp Quarantine in south Mpls.

Citing urgent public health concerns, Metro Transit authorities are moving to contain the spread of a large and growing homeless encampment near the light-rail line in south Minneapolis.
Pedestrians walked near a “road closed” sign as they walked around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis recently.

Minneapolis extends closure of parkways past June

The Park Board was originally going to reopen them at the end of the stay-at-home order.
The tennis courts at Lyndale Farmstead Park in Minneapolis were locked up and closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tennis players raise a racket about Minneapolis court closures

Tennis players have questioned why the Park Board wants to shut down a sport in which players are on opposite sides of a long court, with plenty of space between them and no physical contact
Bde Maka Ska was the scene of varied activity Wednesday. With the city’s athletic fields and playgrounds set to close by May 1, the Chain of Lakes w

Even with some closures coming, Minneapolis parks to keep fine-tuning policies

Superintendent Al Bangoura said tougher decisions lie ahead.
A pickup basketball game at Peavey Field Park in Minneapolis on March 26. Officials were concerned about people not practicing social distancing.

Mpls. will close athletic fields, playgrounds by May 1

The restrictions, which are meant to prevent groups from congregating during the pandemic, will include removing or blocking basketball rims; removing tennis and volleyball nets; and posting signs notifying park visitors that soccer fields, playgrounds and skate parks are closed.
City Council candidate Suud Olat.

Candidates line up for Mpls. City Council vacancy

Winner will replace Abdi Warsame and remain in office through 2021.
On April 1, people flocked to Bde Maka Ska despite officials urging social distancing to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Mpls. to close parkways to cars along Bde Maka Ska, reopen at Lake Harriet

A park commissioner said he reopened them to allow seniors and people with health issues to visit the lake.
Birchwood Cafe employees Diane Beck and Keelie Ritter looked up car model and color on an order as they carried out meals to people’s trunks on Frid

In one Minneapolis neighborhood, small businesses get creative to survive pandemic

The merchants of Seward are counting on support from loyal neighbors to weather the shutdown.
In North Loop, apartment dwellers cheer on medical workers from every balcony

In North Loop, apartment dwellers cheer on medical workers from every balcony

Every night at 7 p.m., neighbors step out on their balconies to show their appreciation.
People flocked to Bde Maka Ska on April 1, despite officials urging social distancing. The Minneapolis Park Board barricaded three more parkways for u

Minneapolis parks superintendent granted special authority during pandemic

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board on Monday granted additional authority to Superintendent Al Bangoura, giving him the power to, among other actions, close parkways…
Minneapolis' July 4th fireworks celebration is on hold as part of the Park Board's actions in favor of social distancing.

Latest cancellation due to virus pandemic: Summer in Mpls.

To maintain social distancing, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board this week announced the cancellation of most recreational activities through Aug. 31. The decision will be a major disruption to families across Minneapolis, put the jobs of hundreds of seasonal employees in limbo and result in millions of dollars in lost revenue for the Park Board.
Through a class at BLIND, Inc., Angie Castro, 30, is learning to navigate Minneapolis, including crossing busy streets around the Minneapolis Institut

Minneapolis-based BLIND Inc. teaches life skills and the joy of independence

People from all over the country come to the Minneapolis training center for six to nine months.
People flocked to Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis despite officials urging social distancing to combat the spread of the coronavirus as temperatures crept

Mpls. officials double down on call for people to spread out

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.