I can commiserate with Mr. Reno on the subject of chains. I hate to use them.
However, studs are an excellent alternative and they are legal on all California highways between Nov. 1 and April 30 (see www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/vctires.htm. See Vehicle Code Section 27454(e)). The contact area of the studs is limited to three percent, in order to minimize road damage and sliding.
Siping adds closely spaced razor cuts which increase traction on bare ice, but do little on packed snow, where tire blocks are more important.
The downside to siping is that it can affect dry road handling and increase tire wear. Siping is typically found on winter tires, such as Blizzaks, where extra wear is accepted as a compromise for better traction.