How hard is it to get a curb cut in Berkeley for a new driveway?

My wife and I recently purchased a house in Berkeley that doesn't have a driveway but has space in the front yard for a parking spot.  How hard is it to get a curb cut approved in order to facilitate creating a parking space?  I'm sure the city isn't wild about losing a parking spot on the street but it's also near public transit where non resident cars have to be moved every two hours anyways.  

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Your issue isn't likely to be the curb cut itself, but whether or not the space in the front yard meets the design requirements to be off-street parking. It's very possible that it doesn't, and that's why there's no curb cut/parking spot. The City website has the guidelines that lay out how wide and long your driveway needs to be and what the grade needs to be. Assuming your property meets the minimum requirements, you can start the process of applying to add that to your home. If they approve it, then the curb cut would come with it. Berkeley does pre-application consultations (for a fee), so you can always take your plans in and review it with them to find out how feasible it is, too.

I have the same issue - just bought a house and I'd like to cut a drive way for us. How do you even go about the permitting process for this?

We looked into this too. It may not be the curb cut that's the problem, but rather the setback. In Berkeley your parking spot must be set back 5 feet from the sidewalk/street, so it was a dealbreaker for us regardless of the curb because we didn't have enough room in the front yard to set it back that much. If you do have the room for the setback, it might not be a problem. 

Generally parking isn’t allowed in the required front setback in Berkeley. You can review the standards and exceptions in the Parking Layout and Design section of the Berkeley Municipal Code. You need to look up your lot Zoning to find out your required setback, but for most residential zoning in Berkeley it’s 15 or 20 feet. In practice, plenty of people park in their front setback, but their official parking space is not there.

If the only space you have is in the front setback, you can pursue an Administrative Use Permit (AUP) to allow parking there, but it  could be hard or impossible to get. Go to the Planning Department and ask.

As mentioned by an earlier poster, Berkeley also has design guidelines that you would probably be required to meet as well if you are allowed to put in the parking space.

This is an easy permit to get, actually.  But only if your house meets all the requirements, which is unlikely.
Even if every house on your block is built the same way, and they all park in their short driveway or in front of their (junk filled garage).
In fact if you convert your garage to an ADU, and the driveway in front does not meet the standards, you have to REMOVE the curb cut.